A few years ago, I met an older gentleman while I was out walking dogs. His dog was always out in his front yard so we got to know one another as I would pass by. At the time, his wife was undergoing dialysis at the end of a lifetime of diabletes and I offered to care for his dog on the days he had to take his wife to the doctor. That became a regular thing and eventually, when his wife passed away, we had become friends.
This man had no children or close relatives and did not know his neighbors well. Consequently, the loss of his wife hit him even harder than this kind of tragedy ordinarily would have. Since my work hours were (and are) very very long, I could only spend a little time with him, so I started talking to his neighbors when I would see them out in their yards, letting them know that his wife had just died and that he was having a hard time. Within a short time, the neighbors began stopping by his house.
It is now almost 10 years later, and far from being lonely, this man's home is now sort of a social center of the neighborhood! A group of 6 women, of which I am one, banded together to be his "support group". Together, we have kept him going through depression, a hip replacement and several surgeries. Someone in our group calls him daily, another walks his dog when he cannot, one drives him whereever he needs to go, someone else brings him food occasionally and together we all make a huge deal out of his birthday and Christmas each year.
This group, and his other neighborhood friends, have helped keep our friend involved in life. He sends text messages to his friends on his cell phone and has just this week gotten his first computer! Our arrangement evolved easily and naturally and makes us all very happy. I wish all older people could have something like this!
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