One Lonely Day = 15 Cigarettes

This summer has been wonderful, and strange at the same time. Weather-wise I couldn’t ask for anything better, but Labor Day weekend was a big disappointment. It felt like Frankfort celebrated a weekend off. For forty years we have had a Fall Festival on Labor Day weekend. This year it was cancelled because of COVID. We will eventually recover from this shock, but it may take a long time, like several years.

Suddenly, fall is sneaking in and the weather is changing. Temperatures are dropping rapidly. It seems like I just got acclimated to living in ninety degrees when all of a sudden today it was sixty. Next week we will have some warm days but in general the temps will swing downward. Fall is in the air, the leaves are dropping from the trees and changing color too. Flowers and plant life are withering from the recent drought. I called it sneaking in, but it seems more like a thud, and its here.

The weather change has me thinking about wintering in a warm climate. I haven’t had that urge for several years, but now I do. I need to get away and shock my life into something new. The one problem I have with this plan is that it is the stress of distancing that has caused me to want to seek out a new life somewhere else, and COVID will be with me anywhere in the world I might want to escape to. I have a lot of thinking and researching to do before I make any reservations.

One scary thought is that my friend base in Phoenix is smaller now than it was six years ago. Being alone will not help to improve my attitude at all. I read a short article published in September, 2020 issue of Departures magazine titled “Happiness” by author Eviana Hartman on how happiness affects people’s lives and one sentence stunned me.

“Happy people are less likely to catch a virus, and loneliness can be as damaging to physical health as smoking fifteen cigarettes per day.”

I quit smoking forty-two years ago, and it scares me to know that I can wipe out the benefits by feeling lonely. Loneliness is one of the biggest problems I encountered after each of my life partners died. It took a long time to be happy again, and I worked hard at changing my life in order to reach a happy state. So far, I haven’t reached happiness after Peg’s passing, but it’s only been fourteen months.

All I can say is that I’m working on it, and that is all I want to say about that.

To Die For

Learning to be single in one’s eighties is really different. Throughout my life I always had some type of support. From birth until college it was my parents, brother and sister. In college it was a room mate. After college it was back to my parents for a short while, then, marriage. That phase lasted forty two years, and I was single again, living alone, then marriage again. The second time it lasted fourteen years, and that brings me up to today, single again. I vowed never to get married again, but never say never. I am determined to stay single.

Life has become a battle between grief and loneliness, but after nine months of it I  can claim I am gaining on the task. To combat loneliness I have developed a daily pattern. Basically, it is get up, make breakfast, clean up, read mail, listen to my radio show, make lunch, go for a long walk, surf the net, work on my art, make supper, cleanup, work on my art some more, watch movies, read, then go to bed. Exciting? Not really, but it takes my mind off my loves and keeps grief away. After seventeen years I still grieve for my first wife Barbara, and now my second wife Peggy, such is life.

I thank God for allowing me to have Xfinity On Demand, and Amazon Prime, both services are keeping me going. I stay away from zombies, terminators, cartoons, satanic, comic characters, and stick with drama. Do you know how many movies are in the genres I just listed? Thousands. I do like action movies involving espionage, and mystery. All of them have to be included with the service, I refuse to spend money on rentals to get recent selections.

Most of the films I watch are family oriented stories. Most of them have plots based on the effect of someone dying. I estimate nine out of ten stories depict the hardship that life brings after a family member dies. Knowing a little bit about life after losing a partner I can attest to the truthfulness of how life gets screwed up. Many stories are about the effect of death on children. I watched one last night called “A Father’s Choice.”  A cowboy falls for a city girl, and they marry. They have two daughters. Their marriage falls apart and the mother raises the girls alone. She meets a man she wants to marry. The happy family to be is returning from a night out at dinner and the movies. As they exit their car and approach the house the new man notices strange things, like the dog is out in the back barking, the front entry light is out, etc. They take two steps toward the door and a man in black jumps out of the dark and begins shooting. He kills the mother on the spot and nearly kills her fiancé, the girls are spared. Think of the impact of this scene on the kids. The rest of the story involves how the kids cope and how their estranged cowboy father learns to be a parent after a long absence. I love this kind of plot, but there are too many off them that rely on death to become a story.

Many of the better films are not produced int he USA, but rather in Canada or Australia. Folks in those countries are not as focused on the weird zombie stories like we are in America. come to think of it, zombie movies are dependent on death also.

I got hooked on a series called Jack Ryan, based on author Tom Clancy’s stories about espionage and intrigue. The remarkable thing about these stories is the unbelievability of the central character to endure enormous punishment and his bullet dodging capability to stay alive while killing untold numbers of bad guys shooting at him with machine guns with single shots from his pistol.

If Hollywood ever decides to quit making this genre I am in trouble.

 

Week Eight of Twelve

 

I don’t believe the meme. We enter with our mother, we leave with family or friends, and it is rotten to be alone.

I took on a super goal after Peg died. I vowed to move out of this big house into a smaller less expensive place after she left me. Right now I am in week eight of a twelve week program to empty the house of all unnecessary stuff; most of it belonged to my beloved Peggy. As long as she lived with me I happily tolerated her belongings, but once she left I no longer feel the connection. The house still looks like a train hit it, but in reality it is much more empty than it has been in a long time. By the end of next week I will have removed all things Peg except her memory which I will cherish for as long as I live. She was a beautiful woman who really took my heart, and I couldn’t do enough for her. We shared an amazing fourteen years together, and I miss her.

Peg had a habit of never throwing anything away. Yesterday, I attacked her desk to clear the drawers. Grief overwhelmed me, but I persisted and succeeded getting through everything in an hour. Toward the end, she was  packaging all the newspaper articles she saved in plastic bags or manilla envelopes. Most likely she did this out of boredom while I stayed engrossed in writing or cartooning. No doubt this finding will be one of my regrets that will haunt me during my lifetime.

Regret is an amazing emotion, and coupled with grief it can destroy a person. The only tool I have to fight it off is a promise not to neglect someone I love like I did Peg.

There are four weeks remaining in my project and I will once again be alone with my thoughts, regrets, and loneliness. I’m not alone yet because I retained Peg’s caretaker as my helper for twelve weeks to clear out the house. She is like a sister to me and a wonderful companion. Just knowing someone is in the house with me is comforting.

Yesterday, I got a call from an agent about an apartment that I  have my eyes on. I’m on a waiting list (currently number thirty) to get into the place. I have never seen what these apartments look like and asked to be shown. When I got the call I got weak in the knees thinking the place became available.  Lucky for me, an apartment became empty and I was able to walk through to see it. Someone else on the list is moving in.

The apartment is very nice, but I had a problem accepting it as a place to call home. Maybe, it is because it is the only building within 500 yards of another. Or maybe because it is occupied by seniors, living in a neighborhood with kids of all ages has some social advantages. Everyday I see people walking past my house with their dogs. In the afternoon I see kids returning from school. In the evenings I often see neighbors exercising their dogs by playing fetch. If I get to feeling alone, I walk up to the library and browse. Social contact is important in one’s life. Living in the senior complex so far away from everyone is definitely a negative.

Another negative of living in an apartment is having to give up my wood shop and Intarsia work. I look forward to giving up my garden, but the shop is another thing. I have worked with wood since I was twelve, but then again I worked with plants since I was four. I think it must be a brain thing.

The worst part of living alone after so many years of marriage is losing the soft cushy body to snuggle with. Although I have just endured four years without snuggles while Peg and I slept in separate beds in the same room. I can go on and on listing the advantages and disadvantages of living single, but it won’t do a thing for me to do so. I just have to live through this and get into a single routine like so many of my friends have already done.

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