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Italian Dinner

Dave and I have lived in a home for Senior Citizens for the past 5 years where there are approximately 90 residents between the ages of 55 and 93.

I have just turned 69 and I am finding it difficult to comprehend why it is freaking me out. I don’t feel old. Okay, I could be healthier, fitter and thinner. I like the wrong foods and being summer, it is too hot to exercise. Yes, I have a busy brain and a lazy body.

I look at pictures of myself and I see my Mom (except she was petite). When I speak, I hear her voice. She lived till the age of 89 and fortunately her mind never dulled.

 2023 was a horrible year for many - many folk have not recovered from the economic effects of Covid. When you can’t take care of yourself or your loved ones you fall into a black hole and it is difficult to escape. When you are older your chances of finding paying work are greatly reduced. You lose hope and sadly more and more people are taking their own lives.

You are old, you don’t feel needed so what is the point of being alive? You rationalise that the world will be a better place without you because you hate feeling that you are a burden on your friends and family.

Sadly we had 2 residents violently take their own lives within a few weeks of each other. It was traumatic for us all. When you live in a senior citizens environment, death is not unexpected and we become pragmatic and accepting that it is normal. However, it is distressing to see the paramedics and ambulance arrive, followed by the mortuary van a few hours later.

Suicide adds a different layer to our “normal” and it makes us re-evaluate our own lives and the way we care for ourselves, our neighbours and loved ones.

Dave and I live in a block of 4 units with a corresponding block behind us so we have a shared courtyard where we have our washing lines. This is where we congregate and chat. Each unit has to have a Buddy Board with the days of the week and an “away” board. Changing our boards daily enables us to ensure that we are all OK.

We have an interesting mix in our group of 9 (Dave and I are the only couple). An award winning architect, a retired banking executive, a former property manager, a retired university administrator, a vehicle finance executive, a teacher/librarian, and a professional florist who is also an extremely talented seamstress (she does all our mending) and even better, she is the au pair to our grandson Logan. Dave is an ADHD Coach following careers in photo journalism, advertising and marketing, and business consulting and training. Me? You can read about my many passions and careers by clicking here.

Our conversations are never boring especially when we have our monthly themed bring and share dinners under the wash lines, with fairy lights and candles and our favourite tipple.

Oldies are complex. We differ in our political and religious beliefs. You don’t get to be a senior citizen without achieving success in some areas and failures we are ashamed of. We have all suffered loss of loved ones and dealt with grief differently. Our relationships with our children may be fractured or they have moved far away.

Sharing our knowledge and our past has helped us bond and become vulnerable with one another.

Giving someone a hug and listening is often all that we need.

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Couple on bench Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@sxoxm


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