In case Simon dies, I have a plan.
Over the past couple weeks my husband, Simon, and I have been back in England trying to get his father sorted out. Using the term ‘sorted out’ doesn’t accurately convey the weight of the situation. People are not there to be ‘sorted out’ but I think you’ll get the gist of what I mean.
When we arrived for the holiday season we found him in his flat with a few month’s worths of pizza boxes on the floor, no food in the fridge, freezer or cupboard and the car was missing. By the time we left (yesterday) he was in good spirits, the pantries were stocked, a carer had been found and his future looked slightly brighter.
Simon’s dad, Keith, is lonely.
He also thinks that the only way for him to be happy is for us to be with him. Us being Simon, Sienna and me. Keith has given up his power to take responsibility for his happiness. He doesn’t have dementia, he’s not crippled…he’s just not motivated to care about himself.
I get it. In fact, I’m scared about how much I get it.
Today Simon and I are finding ways and means to ensure that Keith is taken care of. Tomorrow it might just be one of us that is sitting in a flat wasting our days away watching television and ordering the latest Pizza Hut meal deal.
But then I turn my focus to my grandparents. My grandpa just passed away at the age of 95. Grandma is still going strong. When my grandparents were in their 70’s they were still volunteering, had a massive social life and got out and lived. They also knew that they were heading for the winter of their lives. They sold their home, got a townhouse within a senior community and knew that as and when they needed more assistance they could get medical visits and eventually move into the community home.
Grandpa mostly kept to himself but ate dinner at the community hall.
He was a hit with the ladies as there weren’t many men around. Grandma got involved in classes, meeting up with other women and keeping busy. They were fortunate. They both had each other. And they both had a community of friends and family around them. And thankfully, Grandma still has that community around her.
Due to recent experiences in my life, I can’t but help think that it’s a flat out necessity to grow older with friends. And I don’t mean friends that call once a week and see once a year. I mean friends that are like-minded, have similar interests and want to help make your life fulfilling because you’re interested in doing the same – in person!
I hope Simon doesn’t die any time soon.
In fact, I hope I go first (but not anytime soon either!). Ideally, I’d like to go two minutes before Simon and while I’m making a note, I want it to be pain-free, please. But what if he does go? What will my future be like?
I don’t want to be like Keith but I also don’t want to totally depend on Simon being there for me, like my grandparents were, because that’s not in my control.
Let me side-step just a wee bit.
Back when we lived on land we had very good friends but we didn’t see them too often. Maybe once a week but it was more like every couple weeks. And we didn’t have any sense of community where we lived. We didn’t know our neighbors. Life was more about working, getting Sienna to where she needed to be, keeping the house up and then watching TV to relax.
Contrast that with boat life and the difference is incredible. If you’ve been reading my blog for several years you’ll know that I joke about the boating community being a commune that’s not a commune. Every day I see several friends. Almost every evening I sit down with boat neighbors for sundowners and have a laugh about the day’s events. When I have a drama, people come to help. When they have drama, I/we reciprocate.
When I can’t bear another day of doing homeschooling, a friend will say, ‘let me have Sienna over for schooling today.’ When we’re working hard all day and we’re tired a boat buddy will call on the VHF and say, come over for dinner. And on and on it goes.
Before I lived on a boat I didn’t know what community was.
Or perhaps I had an idea but I never experienced the feeling you feel when you know your neighbor has your back. Even when I don’t know who my neighbor is I can say with almost certainty that he/she will, indeed, have my back. And I will have theirs.
With my experiences of land life and boating life I now know the difference between being a couple that is rather secluded and being a couple within a community. I now know that we need to set up our future to keep that community element.
So…if Simon does go sooner rather than later my plan is to find a hot, sexy, wealthy Captain that is already a part of the boaties community. If that doesn’t work I might just have to learn how to sail our boat. Hehehehehe.
Ironically, I came across this…
On the plane home yesterday I read an article in a magazine I picked up in Gatwick, London. Lucky for me I didn’t really look at what the magazine was. The best way for me to describe it was that it was a self-help/inspirational/forward-thinking/woman-led magazine for paper lovers. I kid you not…PAPER LOVERS.
Talk about a very defined audience. It gives me hope that my niche of helping people that want to be bluewater cruisers isn’t too narrow!
Anyway…I’ve always been a stationery freak.
If I see a Staples or Office Depot I’ll have to go in and I’ll spend hours looking at pens, paper and anything else that’s colorful. And when I see journals or homemade writing tablets…or leather-bound lined paper I just love them. And yes, I’m a book fanatic. I like to smell them!
So…I would have never picked up this book, as I never considered myself a paper lover, but I did. And now I realize I am actually a PAPER LOVER. And it was a joy to read, feel and smell. There were all sorts of lovely types of paper, beautiful illustrations, different fonts, and even a wonderful free notebook. (That’s probably why I bought it! I can’t refuse a free notebook!)
In the magazine, there was an article about a new trend that I just couldn’t believe – at first.
Apparently more and more people in their late 40’s and early 50’s are making future living arrangements that are communal based.
The article mentioned groups of friends putting in money to buy a plot of land and/or build a house or renovate a property that allows for private rooms with shared kitchens and community areas like outdoor patios, large living rooms, and dens. Some are coming up with plans to have a fully functioning apartment but within an area where the other tenants are all friends.
Now obviously you really need to like the friends you choose.
You’ll also need to know that you’d be happy living with them/near them. But think of the advantages! If you get sick or need help or just want to be with someone you have it. And you, in return, can be there for others. You don’t have to cook dinner every night. I’m sure you can imagine the benefits. There’s a purpose, there’s love…there’s friendship.
And if you plan your commune correctly you can get some older and younger friends so that you’re covered for life.
When I read various papers or hear the news there’s so much there about mental illness, loneliness, and depression. And it’s not just the elderly. It seems like it’s everyone! Is it because we’re all on phones, hidden behind walls watching our big 70” TV? Is it because we’ve never really been too social or into a community? Perhaps we don’t know how amazing they can be? Or maybe we just haven’t thought that much about how to ensure our future happiness?!
So my article to end 2019 will hopefully get you to think about 2020 and beyond.
What are you going to put in place to make sure Pizza Hut is not your number one on speed dial? If you can get into the bluewater cruising community then I can’t say more about it…but if that’s not possible, what other options are out there?
Lastly, if you’re a handsome, wealthy Captain please drop me your name and number. If Simon croaks I’ll get in touch.
Happy New Year. May 2020 be the best year for you yet.
P.S. Today is Simon and my 21st wedding anniversary. Woo woo! Hopefully, there will be many more 🙂