My family has been falling apart…literally, in the past few years. We are a family of elders with no children or grandchildren around us. I am the youngest at age 68.
First my Dad died in 2020 leaving my Mom bereaved, in great need of companionship, and beginning to experience dementia and yet forced to live alone for a couple years, because of the COVID pandemic. In the meantime, my brother John finally left his lean-to tent near Oak Creek outside of Sedona AZ to move up near Mike and I. He needed more help to live. Since 2020 my sister and her husband have been taking care of our Mom in Denver while Mike and I have been helping John access affordable housing, medical care and food assistance here.
As John and Mom’s memory and mental status continued to fail, our Mom went into assisted living in Denver. Today my sister and I do what we can to keep everyone going in spite of our own health challenges. We also commiserate often over what is happening to our family. This can be quite depressing at times.
I spent most of my life trying to “go it alone.” After a traumatic betrayal in my early 20s I decided, “Who needs all those others who can be so disloyal, undependable and will only abandon me in the end?” When I was in counseling in my 30s my counselor assigned me the duty of inviting others to share a hike or a meal with me. I have spent most of my life alone.
This is why I can highly recommend the 2022 film “A Man Called Otto.” This story does not minimize the difficulties of life, especially as we enter our 60s and 70s. The writer acknowledges the “systems” we put in place to retain some sense of order in an otherwise lonely, messy and chaotic world. Yes, life can be so unfair at times. Yes, it is almost impossible to go it alone. Yes, suicide is always an option. Yes, some of us must be forced into caring for others, but that can also be our saving grace.
That is why I so joyfully welcomed Mike into my life at age 49. I changed. I finally found somebody worth my trust and was forced to acknowledge that life would not be worth living without the love and support of my best friend.
We Carters have never been a close family, but now we are finally bound together to face the end of us all. Mike has joined us in this process, as his own brother and sisters face their own demise. I guess this must be a common boomer process we face, especially if we don’t have children or grandchildren that care.
We all face the future as it comes, crying together when we need to, and laughing at it all when we can; knowing that all of humanity has come before us facing very similar situations and consequences. In the process, the love of others is such a plus.