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Reflecting on Friendships


swilkinson

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I guess some people wonder why I still post on this site, after all my husband Ray died in September 2012 so I ceased to be a caregiver way back then.  Well, the answer is because I have made friends here, friends who gave me their support during the long battle Ray waged with strokes, TIAs, fits and seizures and supported me after he died.  Some whose journeys I have followed since I joined in 2005 or whose supporter I have become in all the years between then and now. When I first started as a chat host I was told people come here for support and then leave when they feel strong enough to stop posting here.  That I have found to be true, but some remain on the site to go on encouraging others.  I remain one of those people. The people on Strokenet were good for me when I first came on here looking for support and I hope in some small way the comments I make help others.

 

I also post on a widow site so do my grieving blogs there.  Here I do blogs that are more reflective and outline what my life is like overall.  For some of you that is not useful but I know for some of my friends who read the blogs it is simply a way of continuing the journey we have been on together. Now I am a widow and on my own most of the time of course different issues arise, loneliness, difficulty in facing a world in which I am the one who has to make the decisions alone, not being part of a couple.  I find,from observing my friends of a similar age that  ageing alone is quite different from ageing as part of a couple or in a close family support situation.  My family were good in the last couple of years of Ray's illness and stayed close to be near if there was an emergency but then he died and they felt free to move on as they wanted to knowing that "good old Mum always seems to cope on her own". If only they realised that is not true all of the time!

 

And so I am more reliant on others to help, even if it is only as a listening ear or an occasional helping hand. At first this was hard to do and I simply let everything fall apart, too busy recovering from the deaths of Mum and Ray to do anything, four years later I am looking at the damage wind and weather and ageing has inflicted on my house and deciding what to do about it. I can do little or much.  I live in an area where a lot of older homes are being knocked down by their new owners and replaced by more modern dwellings and I suppose that will happen to my home when it is sold. It is a horrible thought but it is the trend in beachside suburbs, buy an older home on a decent sized block of land, rent it out for a while then bulldoze it and build a large family home on the site.This is a strange idea for me as I am a "make do" kind of person but I see it happening all the time.

 

So what has that got to do with friendships you ask?  well who you are friends with depends somewhat on where you live and people who move often find they have left their friends behind, particularly as we often have friends older than ourselves who also move off to somewhere more suitable for retirement living.  One solution is to use the electronic media to keep in touch, email, Facebook and for those who do them Skype, Twitter etc.  But my older friends often don't do any of those.  So it is down to phone calls and letter writing to keep on touch. When I send a letter I pray as I post it that the person I am sending it to will answer my letter. Just recently a few of my lady friends got together and sent a bouquet of flowers to an old friend for her 90th birthday, that wonderful woman then rang each person who had signed her card to thank them for their precious gift of friendship.  That was a lesson to me in old fashioned good manners.  When someone does something nice for us it is up to us to be appreciative and to say thank you.

 

I always say I have been blessed with good friends.  I know some people say we only ever have a handful of friends but I do not find that to be true, I seem to have a circle of friends.  Sometimes I don't see someone I consider a friend for a while but when he or she does come back into my life it is such a blessing.  I am meeting up with people who were friends in my youth who are now moving back to the coast as they retire.  It is great to see them and catch up with their news but sometimes that is the extent of the reunion, they have friends who are now more important to them than I am and that is fair enough.  In other cases I seem to lose friends for no reason I can work out, maybe it is something I said or didn't say, something I did or didn't do, something I am, like "too churchy", I have heard that one a few times.  And then beyond explanations someone will come into my life and become that friend i need right then. Bringing to life that saying:  "A friend in need (our time of need) is a friend indeed.".

 

Today I went to lunch with an old friend, the one who's mother's funeral I did 16 months ago.  I had only seen him twice since then.  It was marvelous to catch up with his family's news as they were people I grew up with.  I saw some of them at his mother's funeral but am unlikely to see any of them again.  It was good to hear about his son and daughter and their families.  When he hugged me goodbye that was special too as few people hug me these days.  I know it will probably be a year or so before i see him again, maybe I will get an occasional phone call, nothing more.  We have different lives, different lifestyles.  But we are still friends. What is it about the kind of friendship that survives time apart?  I can't give you an answer to that except to say I am glad I still have those kind of friends.  Another couple I have been friends with for more than fifty years I see once a month when we go out for dinner, others who I have known for twenty years or more I have coffee with when we see each other and take the opportunity to catch up.  When I was a full-time caregiver I often didn't have time to do that so I am grateful I do now. I do love to reconnect with former friends too.

 

And I am glad of those friendship I have from my days as a caregiver, on here, on another dementia site, on Facebook and other sites as well as from the various groups I have been involved in simply because I was looking for caring people to share my thoughts with or give and receive support. I was sitting with a friend in the shopping centre a couple of days ago.  Another friend of hers came by and asked how we became friends, we looked at each other in confusion and really didn't have an answer.  I think I met her in a meeting some ten years or more  ago, one for general support for carers as she has an adult child who is in a nursing home now but was still in her care back in those days.  So friendships can be accidental, born of a common situation you find yourself in. You find friends in the most extraordinary situations.  All I can really say is -  I am blessed with my friends.

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Sue -- I am so glad you are here. i am one of many you have helped.....I love to log on and see you, read about you, and know there are others who have been where i am. That in of itself, is so comforting. 

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Sue, that was absolutely lovely. You explained the ebb  and flow of friends.  Reading isn't a strong trait of mine anymore but I was so involved with this. Thank you for sharing and caring . I want to reach through the screen and give you a hug.  I'll send you a post :) 

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Sue :

 

I am always so happy to read your blog, it feels like getting letter from your friend. Through your journey as a caregiver I learn lot about my husband's thoughts, & always tried to give my best in whatever I do. I learn valuable life lessons from your blog.

 

Thanks,

Asha

 

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