Friendship & Reality & Aging

Yesterday I had breakfast with a good friend. She is 85 years old and her company is delightful. We play scrabble when I am in San Diego. She has been concerned about her mental health for some time now. She is fearful regarding her memory. She worries about Alzheimers, which runs in her family.

In the past when she would mention that she felt like she was forgetting more, I was one who said, don’t worry about it, it is just age. When she told me yesterday that she is being tested and she may be in early stages of Alzheimers, I stopped and thought about what I have said to her on occasion over the past year. Don’t worry. It is just age. Your doing fine.

Yesterday I made commitment to stop using these phrases. Although not a definitive diagnosis, this is a real and valid concern for her. It does not help to support her or anyone by brushing it off. So yesterday I truly listened to her and made a vow to support her in an honest and up front way. I will no longer say such things. My question really needs to be, I am sorry you are dealing with this and what can I do to support you. That is a much more helpful response than brushing it off or speaking lightly of it.

We spoke yesterday about the importance of having our houses in order. As single women we don’t have the privilege of relying on someone else to do anything and we really need to take care of our personal life. I have considered this a lot since Jim’s death. I think as humans we always think there will be someone there to help us. The truth is, we are all in this alone. Even in a good relationship, someone has to die first. I know that sounds morbid and I don’t mean it that way. It is a honest fact.

What do I need to do to get my house in order?

  • Finances-I go through a yearly review with my financial institution to be sure I am on track with my money?
  • If you have a trust, is it up to date. What about a living will? What about a power of attorney? Is that up to date? What do I want done with my body if I should die?
  • My friend, is going to investigate extended care facilities so that she knows what her options are. Did you know that most retirement facilities offer a staycation. You can stay 2-4 weeks and test it out. I really like this idea.
  • Miss Elsie the Cat

    What about pets? My friend, Nancy has offered to take Miss Elsie if something should happen to me. Once a year I check in with her to make sure she is still good with this plan. ¬†I have also provided money for my kitty’s care. Did you know there are cat retirement centers at places such as The National Cat Protection Society. They will take care of your cat until death.

  • Does the family know of my plans? I have no children so it is important that at least one of my sisters is aware of my decisions.
  • What happens if I have no family left. What if I really am alone? Well, I am not in that situation yet but I think it might behoove me to consider this and what my options would be at that point in time.
  • I realized that I need to look for services that could help me maintain my independence: carpet cleaners, maid services, grocery stores that let you shop from home and have your groceries delivered, and handyman services.
  • What about my home, when I have one again? Putting handheld shower heads in all the bathrooms might help if I ever need a chair to sit in while I take a shower. What would make my life easier?
  • It is important to tap into your circle of friends. Some of those friends may be my life line if I need assistance. Asking for help and assistance is not a sign of weakness. Most people are more than willing to give of their time. I have to be the one to ask.

I know this list could go on, yet it a list I often ignore. I am in good health, I have new teeth ūüėĀ, and I still believe that I have that 20 and 30 something mentality, well¬†I am going to live forever. The truth is, I am aging. I am alone and I need to be prepared.

Yes, I do carry a copy of my important records with me in my rig. Sorry they are hidden so I can’t tell you where they are. I try to remember to update my sister before I start traveling again. I am fortunate to have friends who I believe, though I don’t know, will gather around if I need help.

Today I am going to create a check list and get my own “house in order”. I believe I am pretty much set, yet I know I am not complete when it comes to this topic.

Today I make a commitment to my friends to really listen when important topics arise. Fear is fear and concerns are concerns and if I can help to lighten the load, even briefly, I will sit and listen and honestly try to understand and support the other person.

All we can do is walk each other home.



How I Am Doing

Jim & Janet on the lower Colorado

Jim & Janet on the lower Colorado

I have managed to get through another birthday and another anniversary of Jim’s death with grace. Since these two dates are 24 hours apart it is hard to mention one without the other. I am not sure that I will ever mark another year without connecting it with the other mark on the calendar. And, it is OK.

I know my last post was about Jim and the scholarship, yet I never thought of mentioning how I am doing. Now that I have been asked by several people, I thought I would try to answer that question here. Since you have been such a faithful audience over the last few years maybe you would like to know and if not, that is fine too.

I am doing OK. Some days, I am doing great, others not as great but not bad either. I am glad to say that I am doing more than just surviving. I would like to think and feel that I am embracing life as much as I can on each given day. Sometimes it is more than others. I, however, am not sitting in my house with the curtains drawn.

Jim and I always embraced life. It was one of the things I liked about him. We were always able to marvel at life and the world. I want to continue doing that. My RV is certainly helping me achieve this. Miss Elsie the cat is also helping me achieve this. All my friends, near and far, help. Everything helps.

Miss Elsie

Miss Elsie












Grief is a funny thing. There are days when it is strong and there are more days when it is not. Someone once told me that grief softens over time. I would agree with this statement. I like the mental image that creates for me. I am not sure if grief¬†ever completely goes away. Now I am not sure about this because, I am traveling through it and not observing it from afar. Sometimes I think it is gone and then it shows up again. If grief is going to continue to present itself to me in my life then I would like to think there is a way to make it my ally.¬†One definition of an¬†ally is¬†to form or enter into an alliance with. If I can make it an ally I can grow with it and let it teach me and maybe then it won’t grip me so strongly, when it presents itself.

Grief will definitely be a continuing part of my life. As I age things happen to people I know. If fortunate, when I reach the age that my father reached (95) I may know no-one my age as I may be the oldest still around. I wonder as I reach into my 60’s how my parents and friends in their 70’s and 80’s reach an acceptance that death is a natural progression of life. I know that I am not there yet.

If you read this blog, you know what I have been up to in the past year. Traveling is certainly a big part of my life. I love to see what is out there and learn new things. Exploring will certainly continue to be a part of my life. As long as I can move I will venture off to see new places and visit those beloved places as well.

Me * RT

Me * RT

Since Jim’s death I have avoided large groups of people. They have overwhelmed me and I am not comfortable there. This year I have decided to put myself out there a bit more and try out larger groups of people. It is kind of like trying on clothes; if they fit then I may keep them and if they don’t; I will put them back. My first adventure into this realm was riding in the “Bike the Coast” event two weekends ago, in northern San Diego. The biking was fun. After the ride I met two very nice women. We sat in the shade and talked. I felt like this adventure out into the broader world was a success for me.

I want to take advantage of the groups that meet around the greater San Diego area and try them out. It feels like I am also testing out what it feels like to be single. Until this point of time I have not felt single, or married, or widowed. I have been just living and being. I am not sure what being single is, it has been so many years yet, like groups I might just try them on for size and see what if feels like.

This year I want to focus on abundance in my life. I want to know that I am open to abundance in all it’s unique and unusual forms. I want to continue to be thankful for each day and for the people who help support and lift me up. Without all those known and unknown to me who have encourage and supported me I know I would not be as far along as I am in discovering the latest chapter in my life.

Today I am open to receive abundance in my life.

Today I am thankful for making an ally of grief.

Today I am thankful for those who love me and support me, no matter what.

Today I am thankful.