Online friends will you look after me in my old age?

I can remember one day whilst on holidays in Donegal as a child, passing a church. A coffin was wheeled out, and the only people following it, were the priest and the lady who looks after the church.

No relatives, no friends.

I was a teenager at the time,small__2220673282
but I can remember being so struck,
by the lack of mourners.
I come from a big family,
and the only funerals I had attended,
had involved large numbers,
both in the house for the wake,
and in the church.

As I watched the lonely procession,
walk across the road and into the graveyard,
I asked,

“How can you live a lifetime and not gather a family or friends?

My mum said that this was an elderly man who had not  married or had children. I wondered if years ago, as a younger man had he had friends? Had old age robbed him of them. Perhaps he’d become immobile and lost contact with people?

Remembering that lonely funeral recently I spoke to my mother of my Grandfather. He had left Donegal to come and live with us after my Grandmother had died. I had always thought that this was great for him. We were his family and he would not have been so lonely.

However, my mum pointed out to me that when Granda came to live with us it meant he had to say good bye to all his friends and leave behind his home and life of eighty years. It was something he found very hard to do. Listening to her I could not even imagine what he must have felt as he drove away for the last time to his new life.

At least my grandfather was leaving to live in a busy house and would spend the rest of his days surrounded by family old and young. Unlike some of the elderly I met while nursing.

I remember one elderly woman in particular. As part of my training I worked in the community for a short time. The area I was assigned to was inner city Dublin. One of our daily visits was to an elderly lady who lived alone in the top floor of ‘the flats.’

I never got to see her.

Each day we would climb the six flights of stairs to her flat. Once there we would check to ensure the groceries which were left outside her door earlier in the day were gone. We would then bang on her door for quite some time. Eventually we’d hear footsteps inside.

‘Mrs X, it’s the public health nurse here. Are you okay?’

A rather loud woman’s voice would shout back,

‘Fu*k Off.’

Job done, she was still alive! I can’t imagine many came to her funeral.

Today, as I look around at my own friends I am thankful for each one of them.
Long may I be well enough to enjoy their company.

I wonder with modern technology will our generation be less isolated as we get old? After all even if we have less “real” friends, we can still have our friends in our computers.

So, I’m wondering in a few years can I trust some of you to check in on me? I do hope my language is a little less colourful than my Dublin lady… but I can’t feckin promise!
I have been writing this blog for almost five years now. That is a lot of posts. So I’ve decided once in a while to share once more a post only a handful of people read years ago. I hope you enjoyed today’s choice.

photo credit: Juergen Kurlvink via photopin cc
photo credit: teaeff via photopin cc

32 thoughts on “Online friends will you look after me in my old age?

  1. Hey up Tric, hope you’re well. Your story reminded me of an old lady in my home town who spent her entire life being mean to everyone. On the day of her funeral, rumour has it that two people turned up, and I suspect that they were there to check that the lid of the coffin was firmly screwed on.
    I will come to your wake wearing my bovver boots and be loud and raucous, drink whatever’s on offer and burp in your honor. Promise. Hugs to you, my lovely.

    1. What a great story. I’m delighted you’ll be at my funeral but raging I’ll miss meeting you.
      Lovely to hear from you again. Hope you’re all well?

      1. All well but life is hectic and I’m still trying to salvage my sense of humour and find time to get it into written form. Smelly Dog died between Christmas and the New Year, which has turned the outset of 2018 into a bit of a damp squib.

  2. I love that I can keep in touch with friends I would rarely see…and make friends I may one day meet too. There have been a good few of those. On the other hand, it is easier to send a message to check on someone than to make the regular trek to their door and, with communities becoming less closely knit than ever before, I think a lot of us may find ourselves heading to a lonelier old age than we once imagined.

    1. I do hope not Sue, although with smaller families and more and more being cared for in nursing homes I do wonder.
      As for online friends, maybe you and I will one day meet. It’s not out of the question.

      1. Ah, well because mΕ· health has been compromised for a few years, and I do feel older than I am, I know I shall get ever older!

        1. I remember being a bit put out after a significant birthday. Then a friend advised me to enjoy myself, because I’ll never be as young as I am today again.

  3. i love keeping in touch with people who have touched my life in some way, many for very different reasons. colleen and i will come and help when you are ‘mature’ and we’ll keep you in fun and misadventure.

  4. I started on Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends after we moved from Washington. I find these days, though, that the a lot of posts are less personal, less “friend”-ly, and more sharing of recipes or cute videos or political rants and the like. Sometimes online friends seem very distant and difficult to actually reach out and touch. Many of our relationships changed greatly after Jason died, so there are fewer friends I feel I can count on, real or online. It’s funny you should post about this, because I’ve been pondering something along this line lately. For some reason, as I read this, I thought of the songs Will You Love Me When I’m 64 by the Beatles and Carole King’s Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.

    1. Yes I only use fb for my blog as I find it largely self promoting too (as I promote my blogπŸ˜€) but I do love my blog ‘friends’.
      I get how you feel about your friends after you lost Jason as some can let you down esp some you never thought would.
      I’ve seen it with my friend who lost her son. Although we often are amazed at the kindness and ongoing support she gets from some very unlikely people.
      I hope you got over the holiday period ok. It’s a difficult time when you’re missing someone.

  5. Sure that “old lady” was just telling you in “Dublinese” I’m fine thanks call again. Colourful language just comes in one colour Tric – Blue, the Dubs colour. My forever friend (Bob Dylan) although I prefer the George Hamilton version will have your name stamped on it next time I give it a spin!!!

    1. I am so flattered that you were among the 20 or so who read it before. We go ‘way back’
      I see the way it’s changed parents who stay at home and even my own mum, reading papers etc online. I hope it does make old age easier.

      1. Between that and the self-driving cars which will bring people in and out of the village for the messages it’ll be great. Yes I have known you that long, my small girl will be 5 in June, you remember her arrival I’m sure. It’s a cliche but time really does fly!

        1. Oh wow, that’s hard to believe. I would say we are getting old but I’ve realised that it’s only our children who are aging. πŸ™‚

  6. Great post, Tric. This is something I think of often, too. I have some good friends still from elementary school, but some friendships have also faded over the years. We have some great couple friends from years ago, also, but I do agree with Rebecca about Facebook – maybe a handful are close friends. But otherwise, it’s pretty much what she wrote. I’ve recently deleted my Baydreamer page, too, just kind of tired of the whole FB world. Blogging is special, too, with all the people we meet. You’ll be taken of, don’t worry. By the way, we’re not getting older. Like wine, we’re just getting better. πŸ™‚

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