On the whole I think I cope with being a widow pretty well. But as soon as the warmer nights start we have noises outside. As a widow and even before when Ray was living here still but was unable to get quickly out of bed I am the one who goes off to investigate. It may be possums on the roof, dogs overturning the bins out on the road or a group of noisy teens coming home from a party, rarely is it something life threatening. Sometimes I just don't see the cause and I might go back to bed and worry for a while but usually I am satisfied. Tonight there is a wind so all kinds of rattles and bangs but all ones I know the origins of so I am okay.
I always say we all plan for retirement but not for old age and I think that aplies to me now. I have got a lot slower since the last operation and I know that while I can still manage housework, shopping and the ordinary tasks of life I cannot do maintenance so in the New Year need to find a way to do the jobs I can't accomplish and that means find some tradesmen to do them. This is going to be a considerable expense but as I don't go on holidays much now I can use that money.
We also don't plan for widowhood so I am now putting some thought into my future again. There are two main choices, staying in my own home or some sort of retirement complex. I think I will maybe consider downsizing to a smaller place too. It seems unlikely now that's one of my children will move closer so I am probably not going to have help in this. It is not that they don't love me but it doesn't occur to them that I need help. And I do find things more difficult now since the leg operation. Every job that involves bending and lifting takes a bit longer than it used to.
And we don't take our future needs into consideration. I am thinking of our need for help and support. Through pastoral care work I deal with the elderly a lot and I can often now see my own needs in the ones I am helping. The need for companionship is high on the agenda for widows. It is easier during the day as public transport, taxis and lifts from friends help if you no longer drive but at night and at weekends that is not as available so there is a difficulty in meeting up with friends.
Technically speaking the family should fill the gaps but in fact few have family living close by. I hear that from the little lady I pick up for church and others in my craft group so I am aware of how it will be for me if I can no longer drive. I wondered if I should express these thoughts here or if I should write them in my widow blog but I think a lot of people on here also struggle with living alone as I do or wonder how they will cope if it ever becomes their life. For those of you who have someone living with you, cherish that situation. Alone means some extra freedom but too much time alone is stressful, particularly on those nights when the wind is up and I become super aware of noises outside.
The good news is that I do have people who love me. They might not be right here but they exist. An old friend in her 90s rang me early this morning to tell me she does. She had received a Christmas card from me and rather than try to write a letter had rung me instead. I know there are people who love me, family and good friends, I am not discounting that. But it isn't always in the forefront of my mind. To my mind I am very much alone. My girlfriend who died recently was one of the people who I could ring on a night like this and it is one of the reasons I will miss her. I miss a lot of people who have been good friends in my past years. It is not the same without them.
Sometimes I think the Christmas season is hard on us as people who have cared for others. I know I never really thought about the impact before I was a widow. As a caregiver I was simply too busy. Now I am on my own I have too much time to think. There is a car alarm going off somewhere in the neighborhood, another party up the road, the sound of music somewhere further away. Somehow that accentuates the aloneness I feel. I probably need to put on some music of my own and block out the noises outside.