Keeping cool

“Cool’, meaning calm, or acceptable, or OK, or perhaps just staying cool in the heat; maybe the younger generation have another meaning for cool. But right now although it’s officially summer the weather is cool, even cold, at times. Springtime in Melbourne can be like that – four seasons in a day, so I often take my walking stick-umbrella and a warm jumper, or both. And often don’t need either – such is life!

Since Dorothy died earlier in the year, and together with Coronavirus restrictions my life and emotions have been a lot like the weather – in a word, unpredictable. Mostly fine but with unexpected showers, even icy hail, then sunshine then storms and sometimes gale force winds.

But I am learning that although we can’t control the weather (or whatever else life throws at us), we do have techniques to cope. Over the past years as Dorothy’s behaviour also became unpredictable it was often tricky for me to assume control, to determine what to do and when and how. In earlier years as her behaviour become more erratic it was vital that I had control of our household, indeed every aspect of our life together, and gently guide us both in ways to help us cope. In those days, I made time to pray together, and to pause, to prepare, to play, to walk and try to work together. They were strange and often troublesome days and whilst Dorothy was, for the most part, calm and relaxed I was, in hindsight, stressed and scared. Many readers will know all about that.

After Dorothy went into full-time care it did enable me to relax more, but there was always that feeling of separation, something missing in my life at home; in 62 years we had seldom been apart for more than a few weeks. Visiting her frequently gave me a purpose and some pleasure and I also loved to be involved in a small way with the other dozen or so people who shared the living areas in her care home. And I think the staff appreciated my ‘mixing’ it with them as well. I will continue to visit that home when permitted and renew my friendship with several others living there, especially those who otherwise don’t have much interaction with the outside world. Visiting them is a bonus for me, it does give me a small sense of worth and meaning when otherwise I can become melancholic.

Those who are living among others in a care home can feel lonely but at least there are activities and a chance to interact at a personal level. But, when we live alone it is little wonder that so many of us are feeling this isolation and segregation more intensely and which at times is dispiriting and, often sadly, overwhelming. I have been helped with an on-line small-group-therapy session each week over the last few months. I might write a little more of that at another time because some of my readers might like to know there is/are accessible, private, and personal resources which could help move us through our feelings of loss or sadness or just being ‘down’.

I am also able to derive strength from my faith, and the depth of friendship and support from friends who worship with me (now online!). And when I say faith, I mean my search for it and for the truth. My prayers continue to give me strength and I am blessed to have the support of family and friends I can speak to openly and honestly. My wish is that other men and women, separated for whatever reason from their partners or parents, will find purpose and strength during these lock-downs by reaching out, and not totally withdrawing.

So, here we are! Singles, each in our own ‘isolation ward’, still exploring ways to stay sane, settled, and sociable. Mostly, right now, I simply hope and pray that we can all find ways to be ‘cool’, to dream of freedom ahead and to find ways to stay warm and comfy.