Lonely Duck

Alone and content

Tracey Columns

A friend recently asked me if she thought it was ‘weird’ that she was happily living her life without the constant companionship of an intimate partner. I’ve heard other people in the second half of life ask the same question. Interesting, isn’t it, the pressure our culture puts on us to conform? Her question brought to mind an email I received years ago. I think it bears repeating.

Dear Tracey,

I want your opinion. Tell me if there is something wrong with me. I am nearly seventy and have been divorced for about 15 years. Here’s the part that gets me into trouble with so many people – I absolutely love my life as a single woman. Why is that so hard for other women to understand? It drives me crazy. So many women I know are miserable because they don’t have a man to share their lives with. Well, I tried that route and sure, if Prince Charming came riding through town, I’d give him a second look. But I just don’t think that’s going to happen so why spend my days moaning and groaning about it?

Yes, I get worried about when my health starts to fail but I have a great doctor and a supportive circle of friends. I’m never lonely.  We do so much together. My dog is always happy to see me! I have a trusty handyman, a good mechanic, a wonderful plumber, and a reliable gardener for the heavy things I can’t manage. I’ve even learned  when and how to ask for help when I need it. (That was no small feat!) My kids and I are clear headed about the future – we’ve even talked about a couple of plans for when I get physically and/or mentally dependent. 

Why can’t women just accept that some of us have made adjustments that suit us just fine? And what do I say the next time I’m with a bunch of Seniors and  some insensitive old biddy says, “oh, how awful you are all alone” as she clings to her grumpy, miserable husband? I sure don’t say to her “oh, how awful you have to spend your days with that cantankerous old gander!”

Alone and Happy About It

Dear Reader,

I had to take a few minutes before deciding how to respond to your letter. Not because I think there is something wrong with you. Hardly! I had to  stop laughing first! In my mind, I could see that “cantankerous gander” you so aptly described!

I love your sense of humor … not to mention your positive mindset, which is one of the keys for living a long and healthy life. Obviously, you have sized up your situation, recognized, and more importantly utilized, your resources and are living life to the fullest. Good for you!

I think we can all learn something from your approach. You have a full support team in place: a rich circle of friends; plenty of interests and activities; a trustworthy physician; children with whom you can have good communication that includes candid conversations; and professionals who can fix everything from leaking pipes to hauling in fertilizer. This kind of attention to your needs and wants is a prime example of healthy living. We should all be so thorough in taking care of ourselves. 

Now, as for what you can say to those “insensitive” people? How about a simple “I’m very happy with my life. Aren’t I lucky?”

Sure, it’s tempting to throw  back a verbal jab when you are on the receiving end of “Foot in Mouth” disease but honestly, what does that solve? Not a darned thing! My hunch is that these kinds of comments stem from the sender’s own, dark worries. Perhaps a woman who makes this kind of comment is so terrified about living alone that she can’t even begin to see her crass behavior for what it is. Then again, maybe it’s a simple case of really bad manners. 

Whatever the source of these comments, know that you are living a full, rich life, one that is working very, very well for you. I’d ask you to be proud of your accomplishments and enjoy!

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