When my loving Dad passed away after being married to my Mom for 60 years, my 82-year-old mother, Charlotte, found herself engulfed by loneliness. My Mom had built a beautiful life wrapped around her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and the love of her life, George. While they had friends throughout their lifetime, as those friends moved or passed on, my parents didn’t make new friends, either as a couple or as individuals. Their lives were full.
My younger sister, Karen, graciously invited our Mom to move from San Diego,California, to Salem, Oregon, to live near her and her family. Eager to meet women around her own age, my Mom joined a seniors’ exercise class. To her dismay, she said women in their seventies saw her as “too old” and wanted nothing to do with her. Those closer to her age who were married avoided her, afraid she might “steal” their husbands.
At a local senior center, my Mom made two new friends, but one was so busy with her family and neighbors, she barely had time to spend with my mother. And the other woman, whom she adored, faced financial issues and moved miles away to live with her kids.
Though my sisters and I wished that we were enough to fill my Mom’s heart and life, the truth is the profound loss of my Dad and the lack of close female friends created a sense of loneliness and a yearning to belong that we just couldn’t satisfy. My mother longed for women who were around her own age with whom she could connect on a soul level.
I watched my Mom face a future she had not emotionally prepared for. I wish more than anything that she’d had the valuable resources of female friendships.
This is one of the reasons we’re writing this blog. Regardless of how full our lives are today, it’s so important to be intentional about creating time for our female friends. Make it a priority, not something to be done later when … (you fill in the blank). Investing in our female friendships, with the same energy and attention we put toward our financial future, nets an invaluable return. I know my Mom would encourage just that!