On My Own
| by Joan Grant Lohe |
Self-sufficiency: that special something we yearn for growing up, especially during adolescence when, at times, we feel unjustly held accountable to parents, teachers and all those who control our behavior. We long for the time when we answer only to ourselves, and take on all the choices and consequences that come with maturity. Once of age, I continued to live in the security and safety of my home, in the company of parents and siblings, so while I earned my own money and made personal decisions, I was not totally on my own. I paid a token fee for the roof over my head; I ate the food on the table, lovingly bought and prepared by my mother; luxuriated in the freedom of coming and going as an adult but still stayed within the comforts of my nest, wonderfully feathered by my parents, never threatened by responsibilities of true independence.
I went from one safety net to the next when I married, just ten days shy of my 19th birthday, I started a life and a home with my new husband, he was my partner, now I had shared independence, learning together, hoping we didn’t sink in the process. And so the years passed, as they did we grew more and more competent, raising our children and living a life we were blessed to enjoy, always sharing it with each other. Big decisions were always made jointly, and compromising became commonplace when our views differed.
At the age of 73 I found myself in a very unfamiliar position; I had lost my soul mate to a devastating illness and at this late stage in my life, for the very first time, I was completely on my own. I had never lived in a home where I was the sole occupant, that alone was very traumatic. I soon found myself going through a nightly routine of making sure locks were locked and windows secure. Sleep was always hard to come by and still just on my side of the bed. That total freedom craved for in our youth now seemed a bit daunting in old age, and so new to me, for now I was thrust into the unknown. Money or lack thereof is a key player in most decisions, however, the simple things is life, where there is no monetary effect, also added to my new everyday choices. Cook dinner or just eat a sandwich, cooking for one is no fun; make the bed or just close the door, no one sees it any way; do the laundry or leave it for another day, mini washes are the way to go; leave all the mundane chores and go to the beach, the solitude is wonderful; the list is endless and doing or not doing still gets you to the end of the day, albeit on your terms.
When money was involved I definitely gave it more consideration, always weighing my options, still pushing forward, a little more intimidated, but victorious. When I bought a new car just six weeks after my spouses’ death I put on my confidence hat, laid out my terms to the dealer and stuck to them; when I returned demanding a refund for added charges that I neither wanted nor approved they knew I was a force to be reckoned with. My children rallied behind my decisions, lovingly adding the caveat “You’ve got daddy turning in his grave”, but all agreeing he would have backed me to the hilt. When I renovated my kitchen the playful remarks were upped a notch; “You really have daddy’s attention now, we think he is sitting up”. I became a warrior to my female friends and became a requested tagalong with them when their own judgment needed a helping hand.
Did I enjoy this recent chapter in my life? Did I feel competent enough in myself and my judgment? Did I have the knowhow to survive in a world filled with so many possibilities for disaster? I certainly didn’t like my new found freedom, I felt lost and I floundered, second guessing myself at every turn, but I moved forward, every hard pressed decision was a victory, and gradually I realized “I can do this”!
Joan Grant Lohe©