By VIVIAN CONRAD
A seventy-year old woman in my church has spent the past few years caring for an invalid aunt, the last living member of her family. With the aunt’s death last week, my friend has suddenly found herself alone. “I appreciate all the cards people sent and the food they brought,” she says, “but what I really need right now is just someone to talk to. The house feels so empty, and I’ve never been so lonely.”
In the bustle of the holiday season, we sometimes forget that some people around us are alone. It’s easy to overlook the 78-year old widower who lost his only son to a heart attack a decade ago. Or another widower whose sole child lives overseas. Or another man whose three stepchildren shut him out of their lives when they reconciled with the biological father after their mother’s death.
The stories vary, but the result is the same – people end up by themselves during a holiday season that focuses on family. For folks like these there will be no presents beneath a tree or stockings at the fireplace. Their Christmas dinners will come from Walmart or Whataburger, and they will spend the day watching TV at home. Alone.
When my children were very young and we were living several states away from extended family members, we adopted an elderly childless couple in our church. The first Christmas we invited them to share with us, they arrived on our doorstep at 5:00am because they didn’t want to miss the kids waking up to their presents from Santa. They spent the whole day with us, and from then on we included them in every birthday and holiday until we moved overseas. To my kids they remained Grandma Nonie and Grandpa Dorsey, and we continued exchanging gifts with them until their deaths years later.
Adding another set of grandparents to our family enriched my children’s lives. That couple loved on our kids with the kind of time and attention that retired folks can afford to give. It was an arrangement that benefited all of us.
As you plan your holiday activities this year, consider sharing a special occasion with someone who has no family. You may very well receive more than you give.
This month we have activities that everyone can enjoy at the Senior Center. Our Second-Friday dance begins at 6:30 tomorrow night. We’ll be showing It’s a Wonderful Life at our Movie Night next Monday, Dec. 17, and featuring a free soup-and-salad bar served at 6:00. At our front desk you’ll find a sign-up sheet for a Cookie Making Party from 1:00-3:00 on Wednesday, Dec. 19. And don’t forget to make a reservation for our Christmas Party on Friday, Dec. 21. Gift exchange, door prizes and caroling will begin at 11:00am, with lunch served at noon.
There is still time to register for the Life Line Screening on Tuesday, Dec. 18. The stroke/carotid artery, heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation), abdominal aortic aneurysm and peripheral arterial disease screenings and osteoporosis risk assessment will be available by appointment only. Call 1-800-324-9458 for an appointment, and specify the Dec. 18 and Mineral Wells Senior Center for your screening. The Pre-Registration Source Code for that number is HSC 6576.
On a personal note, I’d like to give a shout-out to my mother, Bobbie Coleman, who turns 84 today. Happy Birthday, Mom! You are one of the greatest blessings of my life.
The Senior Center will be closed for the holidays Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 24-26, and also on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Monthly calendars with all our December menus and activities are available for pick-up at the front desk any time. You’ll always find something fun to do at the center, and good company to enjoy with it, so come on down and join in.