They say a stranger is just a friend you haven’t yet met.
When we moved into senior living, neither my husband nor I knew anyone there. Didn’t matter: We were warmly welcomed and, before long, each had accumulated a cadre of new friends. A few became closer than some we’d known for a lifetime.
One of my new friends grew up half a continent away on a Georgia cotton farm, yet our young lives were remarkably parallel. Our mothers practiced the same family remedies for aches and scrapes, fed us the same good, plain, often homegrown foods. We’d practiced the same daily routines, hated the same chores, respected the same values. Prepared for careers, then married. Sam and I raised three girls; three boys kept that couple busy. I’m happy to report that both sets of sons and daughters are faithfully attentive to their mothers.
We gray heads get a lift watching other people’s kids. We ooh and aah at somebody’s newborn great-grandbaby, watch him or her grow, enjoy toddlers and teens hugging grandpa. We get to know other people’s visiting daughter, brother, niece, in-law — and sometimes conspire with them to help solve our resident friend’s problem.
Friends are most valuable when you most need them. When I was left to grieve, I was comforted over and over by residents who’d been through that trying time themselves — and were themselves comforted by helping me.
Perhaps you now understand why I encourage other aging couples to consider spending the rest of their “golden” years minus the weary of house and yard work. I say, do it now. While both are still able to come and go at will — and enjoy the new friends you’ll meet. Then, once settled in retirement quarters, take part in their many planned activities.
Interactive people are happier. Happy people are healthier. Healthy people exercise their intellect, recognize the value of routine and adapt to the comforts a good retirement community affords. I value the safety, services, amenities and freedom from the endless chores of live-alone life.
Most of all, I treasure my newfound friends.