After last week proved a very frustrating one at work, I was hoping for a calmer one but hope was forlorn. Oh my goodness…it’s been the most ‘full-on’ one I’ve had in my two years there. Every man, woman and their dogs needed HR input, and it’s overtime week too so I was up against a tight deadline. I’ve worked over by several hours but my week has now ended as I worked on Monday instead of tomorrow.
The reason for this is because tomorrow I have the hospital appointment to discuss the results of last week’s scan on my foot. After that I will be travelling to Bedfordshire to visit my daughter. I loved driving to Shropshire when she lived there, Staffordshire was ok, and Northamptonshire tolerable, but my one and only excursion to Bedford (in August when she moved there) was not a success – I decided that in future I’d go by train! As a bonus, at £12 for a return ticket, it is cheaper than the fuel for the car, and it should be a lot less stressful. However, it just so happens that Daughter has a meeting in Birmingham tomorrow morning so after the hospital I shall catch the local train to the city centre and return to Bedford with her.
I’ve had to turn down an invitation to coffee this week, and two more invitations for next week – one for lunch and another for coffee. It’s great having a big circle of friends but with work and family commitments, and a host of other calls on my time it’s a rare occasion when I can say ‘Yes’, with only a week’s notice. My October diary pages are ‘chock-full’ or to put it another way – overflowing! November and December are starting to fill up too. Would you believe that I have taken to diarising free time? I select a day and cross it out, writing the words KEEP FREE diagonally across them! My diary is an old Filofax which I’ve been using since c2006. Back then, I used to have a page a day but nowadays I’m ok with two days on each page. I even make a diary note at the start of October to buy new pages ready for the following year! My 2020 ones have just been ordered and I already have around a dozen entries to write in when they arrive. This does not include birthdays/anniversaries etc. as they are listed separately on pages at the back. I really do need to write out some new ones as the ones in use are at least six or seven years old and have lots of scribbled notes alongside them (such as how old people were in certain years to help me keep track of special dates).
I know that I am very lucky to have good friends and to be able to say that I never feel lonely. I also know that it is possible to feel very alone even when surrounded by other people because I have seen loneliness at very close quarters. However, I feel very strongly that not being lonely is something that must be worked at. My mother was a lonely person and I am convinced that this contributed a great deal to her diagnosis of dementia in her early seventies. My father had died at a comparatively young age (49) and I suppose that work had been her saviour, but post-retirement she would often say that she had done nothing and seen no-one for days. I would suggest that she invite a particular person for coffee. “Why should I?” she’d ask, “she never invites me.” Other suggestions were similarly met with a shrug and no action on her part ever followed; the effort was the responsibility of others. After retirement when the social contact of work is lost, most of us will feel a need to replace it. Building a network of friends is never going to be easy – it requires an investment of time and reciprocal support; it requires making an effort.
My diary is full; I sometimes wish for more time to myself, but I am proud that I continue to make that effort.