Wednesday, July 05, 2006

House!

Mike was married to Betty something over four decades ago. They had their daughter Emma around ten years later. She took up with the "wrong sort" and had a babe of her own very young. Her "partner" then took off, but not before inflicting injuries on his daughter that left her wheelchair bound for life. Emma was at first suspected of complicity and so her daughter was taken in to care, only to be adopted very soon after by Mike and Betty. As soon as permitted by the authorities Emma moved back to the family home and was re-integrated into her family.

Then Betty contracted colon cancer. After a protracted illness she passed on some time ago. During her illness Emma suddenly became empowered. She learned to drive and found steady employment, to Betty's eternal pride. So for a couple of years now Mike, Emma, and Emma's daughter have lived together in their small house surrounded by the comforting presence of Betty's legacy.

Mike has never seemed to suffer the negative symptoms of bereavement and today I think I learned his secret. He spends his afternoons surrounded by a posse of attendant widows at the Bingo. And when he can he goes fishing.

So often men bereaved after a long relationship seem to founder, but Mike has found the perfect mix of extended support and solitude. It's way better than anything I would have to offer him, so today we just reviewed his inhalers, he imparted the secret of life, and we agreed to meet again next year for more of the same. Unless he wins the £1M jackpot and departs these shores for the Cayman Islands in the interim of course.

25 comments:

Shinga said...

Aaaaahh. What a lovely story.

A while ago Tony Plant of Happystance mentioned a study that finds that resilient widows/widowers are those who have had enjoyed their marriage. It's extraordinary to think that this resilience sometimes results in people being labelled as 'emotionally distant' or 'in denial'. Of course, a good social network helps.

Tom, my next-door landlord shortly after I graduated, was in his 80s and had been widowed twice. He had a routine of engagements every day that involved taking someone to the shops, early elevenses by way of reward, later elevenses at someone else's house, lunch out 5 days a week, then a repeat of early tea, and late teatime (different friends) before returning home for dinner. After that exhausting schedule, he pottered in his garden and usually had a neighbour pop in to watch a TV programme and make him a cup of cocoa (I was 'Friday' and Gardeners Worlds for quite some time).

Tom had had some wretched events happen during his life; yet his social activities kept him resilient and involved. His decline started when diabetes and cataracts finally put a stop to his driving: his entire social schedule depended upon his car.

The Caymans, eh? Long may Mike flourish!

Regards - Shinga

Doctor Jest said...

Is it just me or does Tom sound like a Hobbit. His surname wasn't Baggins by any chance?

Shinga said...

I did occasionally wonder if there was a second breakfast that I didn't know about...He was, of course, as thin as a rake.

Regards - Shinga

Cath said...

My dad does much the same thing as Tom - he has several 'elderly ladies' he does useful tasks for (getting their shopping, bit of DIY, taking to hospital, etc. etc.). My dad was born in 1921. The elderly ladies are in their 90s.
And his days are punctuated by little meals often at pubs, or tea-rooms.
(He comes round to see us of a Tueday evening and we have a pudding and watch Dad's Army or Lord of the Rings together.)
He lived for his work when he was younger, and had a couple of years when he was first retired where he was like a bit of a lost soul, but has established this niche and now seems happier than ever. Hurrah!

Is it all about having patterns and purposes to your life, do you think?

Geena said...

Cath - when your partner dies, it's about creating new patterns and purposes. I see my Mom already trying to do this after only 3 weeks of bereavement. Painful to witness actually - but the strong survive and I agree with that article that Shinga linked...people who were happily married probably recover faster.

I'D have a problem though, if she surrounded herself with a posse of bingo-playing old men...heavens what a thought.

*shudders*

Mr Angry said...

I was a Bingo caller in my youth.

How this game invigorates people to want to live longer I'll never, ever, know. There were many evenings in that Bingo Hall when I prayed for God to kill me there and then.

Each to their own I suppose...

Doctor Jest said...

cath-- seems we all have Hobbit-hood to look forward too if we are spared then. Very glad to hear of your Dad's continued enjoyment of life, and what excellent programming you have chez vous :-)

geena-- I know what you mean. For my old man, when the time comes (as I suspect it will soonish) it will be golf. Took it up a couple of years ago and goes for regular "spoiled walks". Still it gets him out and about and gives him new stories to regale us with...

Might be worth trying to steer your mum in a direction you are more comfortable with, though if it works as well that way as it does with the kids you might be better suggesting she take Bingo up in the sure and certain knowledge that it will then be the last thing she does.

Angry-- truly a man of many parts. I too have difficulty seeing the attraction. All I know is it's working for Mike.

greavsie said...

*Makes note of 'female posse'*

Doctor Jest said...

greavsie-- I see it as a sort of asexual harem if you will.

Shinga said...

Cough - on the asexual harem point, I have no wish to bring down the conversation, but I have a wretched memory of a confidence that I did not wish to receive when I was 18. A woman in her 80s told me how the men were buzzing around her because "They know my Andy's been no good for me since his stroke".

And I've been watching my (very resilient) mother-in-law cope with her bereavement via the SAGA dating service. My husband has had to have the "Don't trust any man who won't give you a landline number" chat along with various updates on modern dating mores. I don't enquire too deeply...

Regards - Shinga

Doctor Jest said...

shinga-- yes indeed. That's somewhere we none of us want to have to go. I am very impressed that your husband was able to have "the" conversation.

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