It’s really not all that ground-shaking for most people to find a new friend. But for me, it seems earth-shattering and good. I have never known how to make friends, and decided that in my older years, I would try to change.
I learned to be a loner, to protect myself from pain and rejection. But, since retiring, I have had a lot of free time, much of it alone, as Douglas still works part-time. I have binge-watched Frankie and Grace, with Jane Fonda, looking incredible for any age, and Lily Tomlin, still beautiful and wonderfully quirky.
Their relationship with each other, as well as the four women in the commercials for an osteoporosis medication, made me realize how having friends in our senior years is crucial for social health. I know that no one can change the situation but me. If I insist on not even trying to make friends, then I will continue to be alone.
So, last Tuesday, I tried again to start a conversation with another woman. I had done so before, but the other person never returned my calls. I had to not let one rejection deter me. So, as I walked on the treadmill at the local gym, I looked next to me and there was a woman my age reading a book.
So, I spoke to her, stating something about the weather. She smiled at me, and asked me my speed, which was 3.5 miles per hour, which amazed her. Then, I said, “My name is Regina.” She reciprocated with her name.
We must have kept walking and talking for nearly thirty minutes, including my teaching and the ineptitude of the government. She told me that she came to the gym on Tuesdays and Fridays, both days when I usually don’t go.
But, lo and behold, this Tuesdays it was so cold that Douglas and I went to the gym to walk, and I decided to walk on the treadmill, after a few turns on the track. And there she was again! When she saw me coming, her face lit up as if we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while. My heart was refreshed to see that smile!
She had looked me up at the university, where I am still listed as a professor. I was not offended that she made sure that I was real, especially in this day when truth seems in short supply.
She said that she showed her daughter her potential new friend and that I taught in Sociology. Her daughter thought that I was beautiful (imagine that!) and would love to attend one of my lectures, if I were still teaching.
She surprised me with a book marker from a late friend of hers from Ireland (see photo). She only had a few, and she said that she gave them out only to special people, as she can’t obtain any more of them. I was so touched! We talked a short period on the beauty of Ireland, a place I long to visit, and then we walked quietly beside each other, so thankful for the camaraderie.
Afterwards, she gave me her phone number, and I texted her, so that she would have my number. Yes, we are twenty-first century women! We have promised to meet one day soon for lunch and an old-fashioned gabfest. I am so excited!
I went and got Douglas to come and meet her and her husband! Anyone would have thought I had known her for a long time, the size of the smile on my face! I am thankful to God for another opportunity to make a friend in my senior years. She and I just seemed to hit it off from the beginning.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 states, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” So, I am praying that this relationship pans out and goes well, for I truly would love to have someone whom I can call a true friend.