When Tim and I married, we shared many of the same values, but our interests were mostly far apart except for our children’s well-being. It didn’t matter until we retired. At first, we pursued our interests apart but slowly realized that the go-go phase would give way to slow-go, then no-go, where we’d spend most of our time together. With this in mind, we started paying attention to new adventures we could enjoy together.
Women who live alone often develop close women friendships for socialization and support. The few single men I know seem to spend time hunting for female companions. One widower said he preferred women’s company over men’s.
After we retired, we played enough golf that the staff at our three local courses knew us by name. We took several trips with friends, went cross country skiing, attended concerts and so on.
To enliven our winter days, we decided to take turns picking books to read. Our dinner conversations were more engaging and we learned more about each others’ views on a host of topics. Tim was greatly moved by Aimee Molloy’ book, However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph. Understandably, he found it difficult to read about female genital mutilation of young girls. One of Tim’s book selections was The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer. It’s about accepting what life brings and trusting that the Universe is teaching us what we need to learn. Eventually, we returned to our individual reading preferences.
We embraced our creative side following Betty Edwards’ book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. We spent hours on our balcony in Fort Collins, drawing and surprising ourselves at how good at times and bad at other times we were. We attended several art exhibits and purchased two oil paintings. Tim may return to drawing, perhaps hire an art instructor, and learn how to draw caricatures.
Influenced by our friends, the Griers, I bought a new (faster) bike, and we started biking more often and for longer. We got familiar with the TrailLink app and explored trails in Florida and Colorado. Our legs got stronger. But as in the case of reading the same book and drawing, our go-go biking went to slow-go.
Today, golf is slow-go, and time in nature is go-go. We set out to learn the names of birds, their sounds and habitats. I ordered Backyard Birds Flash Cards and bookmarked bird-sounds.net on my computer. After learning a dozen bird names, I pass the cards on to Tim. Sunday is when I check on his progress. He says I’m pressuring him and that he needs more time. I beg to differ. Tim asked if it was sufficient to know the names without the adjectives: owl instead of Barred owl or goldfinch instead of the American goldfinch. Of course not. How will we impress anyone with “I hear a dove singing” vs. “listen to the melancholy sound of the Mourning dove? It’s not like I’m asking him to remember the Latin name Zenaida macroura instead of Mourning dove.
I signed up to be an e-birder for The CornellLab and bought $35 binoculars, good enough to better see the birds and neighbors. I told Tim that I planned to die in bed where my last view would be a Painted bunting nesting in the palm tree outside my window. He always smiles when I mention dying before him, but that’s a different subject. For now, our birding interest remains a go-go.
Recently, cooking was on the butcher block. Neither of us is excited about cooking. Take-outs were mediocre. Restaurants felt like giant virus factories. What to do! We decided to change our attitudes. We’d try new recipes, make our broth for soups, and bake the bread. We attended a cooking class, “All About Broths.” After tasting the chicken, meat, and veggie broth the chef demonstrated, we concluded we’d continue buying broth—too much hassle. Tim bought LivingWell (Soup.) magazine, tagged recipes he wants to cook, and I’ve learned to make Artisan and Scalded Rye-Bread. For now, we are a go-go on cooking.
Life goes from go-go to slow-go to no-go. Einstein’s quote, “Once you stop learning, you start dying,” has stayed with me. I believe it now more than ever.