By Alice Herb
I never thought I would outlive the careful network of friends, professionals, and other important people I assembled over the years. I am now in the uncomfortable role of creating a new network of these vital connections.
What am I talking about? I don’t want to seem maudlin but these were people who were vital to my quality of life. I am one of those people who creates a relationship with whomever I have any dealings. Up until a few years ago, in spite of my age, I still had friends reaching way back to my early school years. My one and only college roommate, Joan, and I are still in frequent touch, but she is 91. Five years ago, I lost 6 people from this network, including Joan’s husband (to whom I had introduced her). I lost my oldest friend and her husband, both of whom were in my original bridal party. The surviving husband of a couple I became friendly with through my older son passed away. And the president of the board of a hospital where I had been a consultant died. All had become friends and I’d known them anywhere between 20 and 60 years.
Now, I am not only losing my social circle but also the professionals that enabled me to conduct my complicated life. First, there was the plumber and then the electrician who had serviced my beach house for many years. Then last year it was the handy-dandy-fix-anything man at the beach. These were not easy people to replace, so I asked my overall caretaker/fix-it person to recommend new helpers. Then I lost my accountant, with whom I would have lunch before talking about my taxes. He was a former jazz musician who regaled me with his stories of life on the road. Last year, my personal physician for over 20 years retired and we had lunch and I wanted to cry. She really understood me. She steered me to a lovely young physician who is extremely competent but could be my granddaughter. I have cycled through at least a half dozen medical specialists who have moved on to more interesting or lucrative opportunities or simply retired.
Then we come to my present dilemma. My wonderful car repairman, who serviced my cars, retired and sold his business. He was so good that at one point, he insisted on rewiring one of my lamps! And we often laughed that he was thoroughly American but of Japanese lineage and born on Pearl Harbor Day. Fortunately, through a professional connection, I was referred to a reliable new person. He shared stories with me about the history of East New York so that taking the subway back and forth for drop-off and pick-up was not so terrible. But now, he has closed up shop and retired. I am in the process of finding someone new. Ugh!
I have been lucky. My new accountant is wonderful but we deal remotely. I am happy with my new physician but I still miss the old one. I’m certain that I will locate a new car repair person but I will need an intermediary. My super or a friend in the suburbs who had good experience locally will need to help me. It won’t be the same. Certainly, I cannot replace family or friends, so my world is changing. The pandemic has done its share of damage, but I am valiantly trying to maintain a good quality of life. The difference is the age group on which I am now relying. They are my son’s or my grandchildren’s generation. I am so grateful that they just pay attention to me! Did I ever think this would happen to Ms. Resourceful? Never!
Alice Herb is a retired attorney, journalist, and bioethics consultant. Having reached the age of 85+, she’s more than ready to share her experiences and opinions with agebuzz readers. Want to comment on something she’s said? She welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
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