A few people have asked me what I intend to do with the rest of my life. To some of my older friends, 20 years older than me, from their perspective I should try getting out more, enjoying my life while I am able to, before the aches and pains of old age catch up with me. Some of my younger friends think I should maybe get a part-time job but I don't really want to go back to work now. I was a caregiver full-time for 13 years, then part-time supervisor to Ray and Mum in their nursing homes and now I am officially "retired" and I mean to spend my healthy days on doing some of the things I didn't have time to do while I cared for Ray.
BUT WHAT? Sure I have plenty to do. There is the cooking, cleaning, yardwork. Those things that I have always done. But not having Ray and Mum to look after or visit, has left me with a lot of empty time. After all those years of caregiving it is difficult to know what I want to do with it, in what way I could spend my time that would seem worthwhile. I have been reading Jean Riva's blog on blogspot and she has written several blogs on the same subject: what to do that she would enjoy doing and consider worth while.
Of course some of my friends would like me to join the groups they belong to but I need to join groups that interest me, that fit in with my values, that would use my talents and appreciate my gifts. At the moment I am going on with groups I have belonged to in the past. I went to the WAGS group lunch on Saturday. It was like walking into a reunion with old friends and I enjoyed it, but there is a sense in which I do not belong there now. I found the survivors particularly hadn't much to say once we got past: "Hello Sue, how are you going?" Because the next natural question would in the past have been "...and how is Ray?" So there were some uncomfortable silences.
I would sometimes like to hibernate, like bears do, just hole up with a good supply of food and shut the world out. Shut out all the loving, caring people who think if I just did this or that my life would be fine. But how lonely would I be then, even with the laptop and the visits I can have with my cyber friends? I need to do something regular where I get to interact with others. Left to myself I can go for days without a conversation face to face and for a sociable gal like me that is not good. That way lies madness.
In the church I am going on as before, my name is on a few rosters and I try to be there when I am rostered on. But the need is in other places and that is something I want to explore. Would I be better suited to leading groups now rather than in acting as a liturgical assistant? I think I need to do some grief training first before I volunteer to do hospital visiting . At the present my life is so unstructured. I welcomed that for a long while but now I am looking around for something to do that seems worth doing and meaningful.
When Spring comes and the days lengthen I am going to rethink what I am doing and when and see if I can find something that fills my time and provides me with some new relationships that may turn into friendships. I have been to a lot of funerals this year as the church oldies and the older Lions have succumbed to illness and cancer among other diseases. It has been sad to go to a funeral just about every week and it does bring home to me that I need to make friendships among YOUNGER people.
I don't want to rush into things, I've just had a couple of wobbly days. I think it is because I need to make some decisions that will affect the future, particularly my future in this house. There are a few repairs to do that are going to be expensive so I have to think how long I will stay on here and if spendng a good deal of money will be worth it or if I should just do "bandaid" repairs and sell "as is". There is electrical work to be done, some interior doors need replacing, the whole house needs to be painted, inside and out, and then I need to replace some flooring. Ray built onto this house last in 1983 and it shows. So do I do a large renovation or do I just patch some of the problems and leave the rest?
I seem to be going over and over the last year or so of Ray's life again. I thought I was over that but now it has reappeared. Sometimes as I am waking from a nap I even think I see a glimpse of him as I did this afternoon. I am not usually that imaginative so maybe it is just a form of wishful thinking? I often wonder why I can't just accept that it is over and move on? So many reminders all around me in this house that he is simply not here now. So sad.