Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Little Help from My Friends

“I get by with a little help from my friends,” a line from a Beatles song. Joe Cocker sang the heck out of it at Woodstock. I was feeling it on Thanksgiving, spent with friends with whom I go way, way back. A touch of relief to lean into conversation with people who know me so well, who love me for all the good in me and who put up with my flaws and failings, which they also know (oh they do know). They have heard my stories and they have listened to me whine about the same stuff for years. And they love me anyway. My homies. My contemporaries, who are going through similar life changes as I.

One couple just sold their house and are almost moved out, preparing to make the transition to their downsized retirement home. They’re exhausted, but so ready for this transition. While undergoing this major upheaval they’re also dealing with the failing health of the mother of one of them. She is in hospice on the other side of the country. They can’t possibly go to be with the family this week because of the move. As I anticipate the upheaval of our impending move from our large house to a downsized retirement house in the coming year, I so sympathize with their situation. Although I am extremely fortunate to have my aging father still in good health at the moment, I have a dear friend in her 80s who is camping out in the hospital with her dying husband halfway across the country. I wish I lived closer to her so I could offer more tangible support. This is the way of me and my friends in this stage of our lives. Transitioning to retirement situations while coping with the loss of friends and parents in their 80s and 90s.

Another friend who was at our Thanksgiving gathering is dealing with the failing health of his mother, now in her 90s. He and his sister on the East Coast speak every day as they work out plans to move his mother into 24-hour care when she leaves the hospital. A third friend is worried about her mother, now in her 80s, who fell and broke her ankle while in the middle of a course of chemotherapy for bladder cancer. Her mother seems stable for now, has finished chemo, and will get her foot out of “the boot” soon. But this mother also lives at some distance from her daughter, my friend. This friend also recently learned that the property on which her rental home sits is going to be put up for sale. Will she have to move? Unknown at this time, but she must face this possibility.

Moving house is major work no matter when it happens or how you approach it, but the older we get the more major work such a move becomes. I can’t lift boxes like I used to. Just remembering where I put things in my current home is challenging, let alone remembering during and after a move. I am facing this challenge once again in the next year. And in the meantime concerned for my friend with the dying husband. Thwarted in offering more support by the distance between us. At the back of all these concerns is always the issue of figuring out how to make our finances work out in retirement. Plus Ron’s health requires constant focused attention by both of us, constant vigilance. So much upheaval. So many transitions. Such uncertainty. The crystal ball is extremely clouded. But, I suppose it was never clear.

I do many things to prevent myself from becoming too stressed out. I walk every day in beautiful Mendocino. Enjoy the gorgeous autumn, the magnificent splendor of the trees. I take a terrific herbal adaptogen. I watch football (that sure takes my mind off everything). Pet the cats. Drink a lovely cup of tea. But stress happens, despite my best efforts. On Thanksgiving, I was reminded of the good medicine of spending time with longtime friends. Hanging with my dear friends, friends who have a history with me, friends who are my contemporaries and are experiencing many of the same challenges and losses that I am, made a difference in my life right now that I had not anticipated. Their companionship was such a comfort. Such a boost. Although I know in my head that my friends are there for me, I felt it in my heart on Thanksgiving. Truly something for which to give thanks. 

In case you didn't catch this photo on Facebook, here it is again, for a chuckle. I sculpted a turkey from veggies to grace our Thanksgiving table. Ron took this pic of it when I did a trial run assembly the night before. Note the latkes on the side.

No comments: