Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ah, diversity!

I've blogged a few times about my preference for diversity in the people around me. During weekdays I mostly see other retirees when I walk in the morning (they're walking their dogs then, but the still-working people aren't around) or swim at the local recreation center. And around here in the winter, the kids go indoors before dark, so I don't see much of them.

I had a couple of encouraging experiences recently. One day last week I had coffee in the morning at Starbucks with a friend. She is younger than I, with two teenagers, but we always have lots to talk about, and we meet for coffee every couple of months. This time she had a major health concern that she'd just found out about. For two hours I sat and listened as she vented and planned and cried. I was one of the first people she'd told, she said.

That same afternoon I met another friend for coffee at a different Starbucks. She has three small children and she talked to me about why she is divorcing her husband. I could tell she had done all she could to salvage the relationship but felt like she had no choice but to leave. I watched her as she talked about her options, feeling sad for the difficulties I know she'll have, but admiring her courage.

And that night I got a call from my nine-months-pregnant neighbor. Would I go for a walk with her? She hoped the exercise would start her labor. We walked for an hour and a half in the darkness, talking and hoping. (It was another ten days before she had her baby; I held Elsa Rayne for the first time just this afternoon.)

All three of these women are friends of my heart, though I am a generation older than they are.  Maybe it means I'm vital and interesting to other people.

Then, this past weekend, I flew to Oregon for the funeral of my ex-husband's brother, who passed away suddenly at 62. It's been nearly 30 years since that marriage ended, but I knew many of the people - all the siblings came, some of the cousins, some of the nieces and nephews including my two sons. As my current husband commented, I'm an "outlaw", but I knew all the siblings when they were teenagers or younger, and now that they're all middle aged I can still have conversations with them. They seemed glad to see me, and three people invited me to attend the next family reunion! It was good to be supportive of the grieving family, and to have my own fond thoughts of my deceased brother-in-law. He was a good husband and father and brother, and he will be missed.

It's times like this when my place in the community is affirmed. I love being part of the wider world.

13 comments:

Terra said...

I am retired too, and agree that it is good to have a wide range of friends. I am a volunteer visitor to a 92 year old gal and she says I am young; that makes me smile.

Meryl Baer said...

Kids no longer home, no more full time job, and more flexibility to do other things - like spend more time with friends and family, and make new friends.

Linda Reeder said...

It is you, Linda, who put yourself into opportunistic situations that allow you to have these relationships, and it is you who cultivate these diverse friendships. You are a remarkable person, one who I admire.

Arkansas Patti said...

Hadn't heard the expression "outlaw" before but it is perfect.
Like you I enjoy diversity, other wise conversations pretty much center around aches, pills and too far away family.

DJan said...

Linda Reeder nailed it. You are the kind of person who cultivates friendships. It's always good to have someone to talk to, and you are a blessing to many! :-)

Olga said...

Of course you are vital and interesting to others! You are filled with vitality and a zest for life and your interest in others attracts them to you. Like Linda Reeder, I do admire you. And I am so glad that retirement did not turn you into a bag lady--you might not have had access to a computer to keep up a blog.

Perpetua said...

Friendships can flourish across the generations if both sides are willing to look beyond the obvious differences in age and experience. i have friends who are a generation older than me and those who are twenty or more years younger. What matters most is shared interests and a willingness to communicate honestly. You have that in spades, Linda.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Your openness to diversity is a wonderful trait, Linda, and brings such a rich variety to your friendships. Having friendships that cross generations keeps us engaged with the world and that's one of the secrets of continuing vitality.

Retired English Teacher said...

Linda, you are able to span the generations in a way that is remarkable. You really have a gift in this area. I think it is neat the way you gave your time to listen to these ladies when they needed someone to listen to them. And, then, to walk with the mom trying to bring on labor is another really neat thing.

Divorce may change the course of our history, but it can't rewrite history. Family is family. I think it is great that you were able to be at your former brother-in-law's funeral.

You are a much needed and valued member of the community. I feel like we were just beginning to have a conversation that got cut short when we were on Vashon. We will have to continue it soon. I always value your insights and observations.

Grandmother (Mary) said...

Good for you that you've built the community that you want to surround yourself in. It's an over-arching goal of our next (and I hope final) move- lots of diversity!

Out on the prairie said...

Beat the reaper this week myself with heart stuff. Hope you have a good holiday

Madeline Kasian said...

I also believe it is important to connect with friends of all ages and backgrounds.. I don't enjoy being around people who are all exactly like me!! I especially love talking with young moms, and newly marrieds, but I cherish my time with my friends who are ten years older than me (and still working!) Nice post!! Happy holidays Linda!

Sandi said...

You lead a busy, fulfilling and energetic life, Linda. It doesn't surprise me that you are sought out as a friend by those younger women. Making yourself available to others is appreciated, and honoring to them, I'm sure.