Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Facing Life Alone
It's tough getting older and facing life alone. This month, I've been in contact with people I know in this position and learned how they've coped. Twenty-three years ago, a friend and colleague lost her young husband to a heart attack and was left with a baby boy of four months and a daughter of five. The surviving child died of an asthma attack three years later. My friend found some comfort in her religion and threw herself into work. We lost touch after I moved to Cape Town and then - wham! Yesterday, I got an e-mail - she'd been thinking of me. I wrote back and found that her son is grown up and married and she started up her own interior decorating business some years ago and now travels all over Africa in the course of her work. Some affairs along the way, but no-one lasting. She is philosophical. Another dear friend (last in contact 37 years ago), found me on Facebook! Her husband died 15 years ago. She had to work very hard to bring up her two children alone and there was no-one in her life for a long time. Now she loves a man twenty years older than herself - they've been together for seven years and he treats her well - except that he likes to have other girlfriends as well. She puts up with it, glad to have him some of the time. Then at the party last Saturday night, the MC made a lovely speech about the 21-year-old girl and gave her some good advice - I remember he stressed that above all she should learn the art of forgiveness. He mentioned his 'late' son. We afterwards found out that his 19-year-old son had been stabbed and was killed when he tried to prevent a fight in his first year at 'varsity. His mother committed suicide a few months later. The father soldiers on and finds solace in helping others. My bank manager retired at the end of June - I was feeling sorry for him as he is 'bookish and owlish' and somewhat eccentric. He has a retarded son and has been divorced for 8 years. As I shook his hand on his last day, his face lit up - "I am getting married next year', he beamed! He never thought he would have another chance. I am so happy for him.