My 87 year old Aunty Myrta is an amazing cook. She’s an all-rounder cook but no one beats her paximathya (Greek biscuits). So when she phoned me last week and told me she made me a batch for Greek Easter- I thought BOOM! More iso-calorie food! We arrange a drive through, no contact pick up.
My Aunt has been living alone since my Uncle’s death 7 years ago. Her son (my cousin) and family are doting and live a short walk away, but she often talks about her adjustment to a new life following my Uncle John’s death.
Picking up my treats ends up being a long conversation with my Aunt– her on the balcony, me down on the front lawn keeping my distance. I ask her if she is okay during this social distancing time. Is she feeling lonely? Isolated? Could I do anything for her? She laughs out loud. I mean a real belly laugh.
She said that as you grow older and experience life and loss, your lifestyle changes. Of course you can still be happy and find joy in things she says. But overcoming the feeling of loneliness takes skill and experience. She has the experience and has learned new skills to avoid the feeling. She has bad days where she misses my Uncle terribly, but she also has good days. She finds purpose. She is a homemaker, a cook and an extraordinary gardener. She loves a gossip and she looks for opportunities to connect with people all the time.
Don’t be worried about me. I’m used to being alone. I’ve worked my way around it. I’m worried about you, she says. You younger people don’t have the experience of being alone. You need to build skills to find your purpose particularly when the “busyness” of your life changes. You need to be more proactive in getting in touch with people to stay connected when everyday life means you don’t have contact. Why do you think I called you? Go home now and don’t eat them all at once!