Linda, Age 66
My husband is ill and has been for the past, what seems like 20 years. As his condition worsened I retired early to be his caretaker. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Although I am technically not 70 yet, I am close and feel every bit that age.
I was a full time Human Resources Executive, for over 30 years. I believe the nurturing, helping people cope, as well as problem solving skills, are still being used daily. Being a baby boomer and given my value system, family came first in spite of my career demands. I put in long days at work, but many times those started at 5am rather than stay at the office till 7pm as often as I could, so I could also fulfill my family duties. Looking back I regret that, but I am as guilty as my family for creating and sustaining that. However I believe that made me stronger and prepared me for the role I play today. A woman today would never do that.
I found being home full time time was making me “crazy” so I work outside the home very part time just to see and meet people. The money is a pittance, but needed, given all of todays high medical and co-pay costs. The interaction I receive through working is irreplaceable. My tasks at home grow each day as his health declines however, I would not be able to cope or do this if it weren’t for my woman friends. How long will I “be able” to work is anyone’s guess, but it keep me vital in the meantime.
In the recent history I have lost 2 very dear friends. I have lost parents, a brother and 2 sisters, but nothing compares to losing a dear friend. They don’t send cards and send casseroles when you lose a friend. Friends are my glue to the outside world, without my female friends I’d be lost, whether they live 2 miles or 2000 miles away. Women just know what you mean, even if they haven’t experienced it, their compassion and ability to “hear” you is something you can not describe or put into words. Losing my best friend to an untimely death was like losing my right arm, it would have been easier to sever that arm. Nothing replaces the interaction and friendship she provided.
The thing I miss most about my husband is how we use to talk, the deep discussion about boundless subjects. Conversations with him now are near impossible and anything of depth is near impossible. Yet he was my most intimate friend. Only another woman gets that. Another woman understands that …most people don’t.
An hour conversation with a woman friend, a quick coffee, is like elixir. That time revives me. That time gives me strength. I expect that need to only grow as the years do.
I try to stay active by reading, its hard to be out of the house anymore than I have to. I lack craft and or artistic ability, but enjoy a good book or a provocative article, so I look forward to joining book clubs when my situation changes and that opportunity presents itself.
I guess that’s how we refer to “it” now, when our situation changes.