Now that I'm in my 80s, I no longer expect to enjoy male companionship. In any case I could never find anyone as clever, funny and loving as my late husband, Brian, who died of a heart attack in In this leftover life there are nonetheless many blessings: At the same time I was puzzled. My host was a friend I see only occasionally, and because of his ill health, the invitation was conveyed to me and my daughter Brigid through a member of his family.
Brigid was unusually concerned about what I intended to wear. I want you to meet somebody. Bill doesn't know about it. This Bill doesn't know he's being manipulated. Is that supposed to make me feel better? Finally, I asked myself: What was the harm? In obedience to my daughter's instructions I came to the address punctually at 5 p. The others arrived together: I saw a man in his late 70s, somewhat stooped, with receding grey hair, blue eyes and a warm smile.
That was my first impression. I don't know what he thought of me, if anything. Kate and Brigid turned the conversation to food and cooking and Bill said he always cooked the turkey on important occasions.
I knew he didn't have a wife, but this should have been my cue to ask him about his family, how many grandchildren and so on. Should have, but didn't. From that point, the evening stumbled downward. At dinner I boldly chose a seat beside him instead of opposite.
This seemed a friendly gesture, but proved to be another mistake because his profile was all I could see of him. My daughter asked cheerily, "Bill, aren't you doing some outreach work? And now I've retired. Her family seemed ashamed of her. Never showed her dance pictures at her funeral.
I sought desperately to change the subject. Kate came to my rescue, reminiscing about her youth as a newspaper reporter in New Brunswick. One of her assignments concerned mercury poisoning. I asked Bill, a retired geologist, where mercury came from. He answered in one word: After dinner Brigid joined me in the washroom. It would be nice to say that a few days later a man named Bill phoned and left me a message, but of course that didn't happen.
My sense of humiliation lingered for a little while: A woman of my age should not have placed herself in such a situation.
Old women are not supposed to be interested in men, or at least not let it show. My daughter called again. In a way I did.
I had stepped outside my area of comfort and I was regretting the risk. Unfortunately we wrinklies spend a lot of time thinking about risks and how to avoid them. Some worries are reasonable, some not. We worry about broken limbs, going out in hot weather, losing our purses or our marbles , being conned by telemarketers.
Social situations can be added to the list. It's so much easier to stay at home with Oprah and the CBC. Yet I believe most risks are worth taking, even more so at my age.
A peaceful life may seem desirable, but there is a price to be paid in missed joys and sorrows, triumphs as well as disappointments. Going out to be "set up" like any teenager may have been a bit silly, but I tell myself it was a sign I am still among the living and should continue to speak and do whatever may seem a little scary or even ridiculous.
So whatever or whoever happens, bring it on. Joyce Greggains lives in Toronto.