Tomorrow, April 23, marks the 10th anniversary of my husband Fred’s death of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. Ten years! For two years before he died, he lived in a series of nursing homes. At the end, he did not know who I was. But oh, the years of love we had before that. As time goes by, it’s easier to celebrate the good and let go of the bad.
Since 2009, I have been living alone with my dog. When I named this blog and the subsequent book Unleashed in Oregon, I was not talking about that. I was thinking more of Fred and I escaping our lives in the Bay Area and being set free at the beach, sans jobs, history or family. I was thinking of my dogs. I was not thinking of being a widow. I didn’t expect that to happen so soon, that Fred would only enjoy our Oregon coast dream for six years before he got sick, for 15 before he died. And here I am, alone and unleashed, like a dog whose human partner unhooked her, walked away, and didn’t come back.
Annie is still here, thank God, but her time will come, too.
Living alone is not for sissies. A great deal has been made of living solo since the pandemic hit, but the truth is some of us were already doing it for a long time before that. Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 35.7 million Americans live alone, 28% of households. That is up from 13% of households in 1960 and 23% in 1980.
Living alone is both wonderful and terrible. Wonderful for the freedom to eat, watch or do whatever you want. Terrible because there’s no one to hug, to talk to, or to help when the plumbing goes awry or a tree falls on the house. And yes, the pandemic makes it worse because all those social things we might do to plug the holes—clubs, choirs, gyms, yoga, concerts, meals, parties, classes, etc.–are not available. Nor does it feel safe to travel these days. I guess that’s why so many of my poet friends are writing about the birds and flowers in their yards.
Here on the blog, I’m going to be writing more about living alone because that’s what’s on my mind. I’m in the early stages of writing a book about it. If you who are reading this are also alone and would like to talk about it, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or start the discussion in the comments.
Many of us enjoy our solitude and are not necessarily lonely. But there are times when it gets tough. If you are not alone, think for a moment about what’s it’s like to see no other human being 24 hours a day. Experts say loneliness can be as bad for one’s health as smoking. It can lead to all kinds of health problems and cut years off one’s life. We’ll talk about that in another post. Meanwhile, if you know someone living alone and haven’t talked to them in a while, how about making a phone call?
Today I’ll be remembering Fred. He was the best thing that ever happened to me. He was smart, handsome, funny, loving, and just plain good. He treated me like a princess. In return, I did the best I could to love my prince, especially during his long illness. We had love. We were blessed. Rest in peace, dear Fred. We all miss you. I bought a good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, which I will open tomorrow night. I wish you were here to share it.
3 thoughts on “Unleashed and Remembering my prince”
Being alone is not for sissies! I have tried it two times. After being married for 47 years, Bob Knoll had a stroke. I spent every day with him for about 7 months before he passed. And then I was alone. Actually I had been alone for those 7 months, as he was in the hospital or a special care facilities. I was practicing being alone, you might say.
That was in 2009.
In 2014, on a dating site, I met John Utley. It was a whirlwind courtship. He had been alone for about 3 years and I had been on my own for 5 years. We were both ready for not being alone. It was what we both wanted, and we lived every minute, every day and every year to the fullest: travel, church, travel, family, travel, friends.
On December 18, 2020, my sweet, kind, friendly, Christian John passed away in the hospital on a ventilator.
We had both contracted the virus. His was fatal.
So I am alone again.
Oh, Adrienne, I am so sad for your losses. Bob and John were both wonderful in very different ways. I miss them both, not as much as you, of course. You are strong. You can do alone, but wouldn’t it be nice if none of us had to?
What a lovely post about Fred. 🙂 I am glad you had some good years before his illness took over. Here’s hoping things will begin returning to “normal” (or some form of it) soon and you can go back to enjoying other people and activities again.