I’ve never put up a “guest post” on this blog before – so, here’s a first! This was written by a friend of mine who is a retired missionary. She has never been married, and she lives alone in a flat. When we put together the Living in Love and Faith resources, I was delighted that the book includes singleness, and that the videos include older single people like her. But singleness, whether or not someone feels ‘called’ to it, is particularly difficult in a pandemic.
When my friend shared this with me, I immediately wanted to share it with a wider audience – because what she says is so revealing about a group whose lockdown experience is often ignored. I’m not finding Lockdown 3 easy myself, but I am in a very different situation to my friend. More generally, when we casually pass someone in the street and ask them how they are, and they say they’re OK, we don’t always realise what that means. Her advice on how to structure time is wise and sensible, whatever or not you are a Christian!
When people say to us “How are you?” the answer from most is “I’m OK thank-you” and then the person enquiring really can’t go any further. The answer seems to close down any discussion.
I have decided to put down on paper why I am OK Thank You!
I live alone. I am not in anyone’s bubble which means I don’t go into anyone else’s house nor does anyone come into mine, and this has been so for most of the past year. I was 86 this month and am on cancer preventative medication.
But I am OK thank you.
Why? Perhaps due to the kindness and grace of God. Each morning I get up at 7.30 as I don’t want to be tempted to lie in bed, so a specific time to get up is good for me – scheduled by the Sports report on the Today programme! I then go into my lounge and drink two cups of tea slowly while I enjoy everything I can see. I have windows which look out in three directions from my living room. On one windowsill are five colourful plants, each given by a friend or neighbour, and this is the window from which I watch most. It looks on to a lovely horse-chestnut tree with sticky buds already breaking. Then across the road is a public open space where I admire fast walkers, joggers, dog walkers, and a lady pushing a pram as she exercises herself. In the trees there is a pair of squirrels recently joined by a baby one which they guard carefully between them as they run fast along the branches and telephone wires. Across the road in the car park one or two of the local supermarket workers park, looking at their watches as they realise they have only five minutes left to check in. I get to recognise these people.
Gradually the six or eight school buses come up the road from the outside areas and I try my best to see if I can spy the one, or sometimes two, children in each these days. Not easy, because I don’t know whether to look up or down, front or back.
After getting dressed and having some breakfast I take 20-25 minutes to read something from my Bible and pray for the increasing number of people, near and far who are in need, or who are glad of God’s support day by day in all they do.
The Daily Service comes on the radio at 9.45 for 15 minutes and is the highlight of this part of the morning. Led by a different person each day, from a wide variety of Christian backgrounds, it always includes three hymns, a Bible reading, comments on this, and prayers followed by the Lord’s prayer.
Then the day’s normal and varied life begins. I try to make a note in my diary the night before of one or two things I should do, whether it is writing a birthday card, doing a shopping order, tidying a cupboard, or phoning someone. This is the basis as I then at least have something to anticipate. There are always unexpected things not planned for and I am grateful to people who ring my bell and then stand half way down the corridor to have a chat or bring a magazine – or sometimes a bit of cake they have made! Then, too, I may think of someone and decide to write a card or make a phone call. The one creative thing I have done during this Lockdown is make greetings cards and birthday cards on the computer, and so far I have sent out 50 of these. I do have a lot of personal work which occupies me on my computer for quite a bit of the day, and since Lockdown I have become much more of a reader than I ever was.
Just recently I was horrified to realise I weighed more than ever in my life before so have started to make myself go out for what at present is a short walk each day – short because my legs are not good and I don’t have a lot of breath to go far.
Many of us say we hardly know which day of the week it is and therefore I make a big point of Keeping Sunday Special. I try to wear some of my better clothes, though these days “Sunday clothes” seem to be things of the past, so that is not so easy. I won’t open my computer just to be different from week days, and as I live off Wiltshire Farm Foods (commended by the GP in case you think “how awful”!), I always have a very special meal of theirs on Sundays. There are church services, Songs of Praise and other “different things” on Sundays which then set me up to begin another week again the next morning!
So I’m OK Thank You.