LIVING ALONE VS LIVING WITH ANOTHER
Having lived alone most of my adult life - never married, no kids, I am remarkably pleased with how well it is going, this living with another. As we come upon our first anniversary of my moving in I feel moved to reflect on what and how this has unfolded.
I feel as I have changed enormously. Living alone - was heavenly for introspection, healing, imagining a new and different future and taking care of myself. Since living with another my need for that deeply quiet personal time has been shortened and I find that I still have enough time to do all of the above. Just not ALL the time.
Living with Sharon, has brought out some aspects of my persona that were waiting to appear. As we age, if we do it with awareness, we discover the perfect opportunities we need to take the next step in terms of personal growth. Here are some of the traits that I feel have emerged in this past year.
- I’m a lot more confident in my ability to deal with the inevitable changes which are coming.
I base this on the confidence buoyed by my successful life transition 15 years ago when I moved to Tucson. Finding my tribe and the people I will grow old with seemed very important to me. Since living with Sharon that world has expanded even more.
- There is a deep satisfaction in being able to serve another.
For me serving Sharon is comprised of more physical acts such as preparing, serving, cleaning up every evening meal. Reminding her to take her meds. And that’s pretty much it. I also remove her compression socks and sometimes she gets tangled when putting onher nightgown. If you ask her how she got lost in it, she can almost always tell you exactly what or how it occurred. For her, understanding the limitations brought about her Parkinsons helps her deal with them a lot more easily. When she shares that with me we have a good life as I help untangle her.
Laughter is a big part of what we share. One of the most frequently heard phrases from her is
“Don’t laugh at the handicapped” when she does get tangled in some ungainly particle of clothing.
But there is the other side of living with another, and that is knowing someone cares. The satisfaction of having someone take care of me, when I had my recent gall bladder surgery, was a real role reversal. I’m not sick very often and most of my life when it’s happened I was living alone. So, I’d suffer in silence and then emerge after a few days of drug induced sleep and be well again. But this time, there were people everywhere. Some dropped off food, others sat with Sharon while I had the surgery. She was in and out of my room (in a respectful way) asking me if I needed anything and how was my pain level. That felt really good to me.
And she serves me in other ways with not so random acts of kindness.
- When I help her with the nightgown - I experience a humble graciousness as I realize that is exactly why I am here.
- Shufflinginto the kitchen she often offers to help and sets up the table.
- Getting a subscription to the New Yorker the day I first met her and mentioned I loved reading it. We continue to enjoy reading and sharing the articles we like.
- Covering many of the costs of our shared entertainment.
But the best service is when she says “I am so glad you are in my life in so many ways.”
One of the classic traits of being a caregiver - though I still prefer to think of myself as a companion (more on this later) is a need to serve and therefore a need for appreciation.
So when I get that look of such pure love from her pearly blues and hear her saying “thank you for being my POSSSLQ” I couldn’t be more satisfied. Knowing that the simple assistance I provide is key to continuing our shared housing arrangement.