Jeanne Ellin: Notes from an Older Woman, Week 13

Jeanne Ellin: Age Shall Not Wither Her

jeanne ellinJeanne Ellin is a 68 year old poet living on the basic pension, in sheltered accommodation, with Little Cat Friday and a menagerie of chronic health conditions for companions. Her ambition is to live a happy, satisfying, creative life. Join her for her journey through 2016.

“What is it like to be old?”

I told them it was a real adventure. Scary, uncomfortable, uncertain, with real Dragons and real Treasure.

1 April 2016: Touch

sculpture of loversSaw a program with Esther Rantzen talking about loneliness. She said, and I totally agree, that there is a special and less obvious kind of loneliness that is hidden and hard to address. The loneliness of missing having a person to whom you are special. This gap cannot be filled by friends or family however loving. Years of trust, memories and intimacy cannot be replaced. Finding a new partner with whom to build that quality of relationship again becomes harder with advancing age. Issues of health and mobility can be huge barriers.

Many older men coming out of long relationships are seeking a belated wild youth or to have one last adventure. They are looking for a vital woman in her forties or even early fifties. They often specify good health and fitness. This is a common requirement even without a specified age. Others are looking for what I think of as a ‘Slot In’. Someone who will neatly and exactly fill the space in their life.

I can quote one example of this. A man who described himself as a devoted grandfather. I found this a positive. Then he went on to say he visited his grandchildren every two weeks and specified the direction of his journey. He said it would be ideal if his new partner had family in the same direction. Another described a racial and body type. This is not uncommon. Yes I do ‘Window shop’ online and in papers.

I am neither forty nor fit. Good health is often specified or hill walking or other vigorous exercise mentioned. I am excluded from many potentially interesting contacts. Indeed my limited mobility narrows the range of possible partners considerably. I would not respond to those who specify body types or race, even if I qualified. Nor am I a potential Slot In.

I am currently single and will probably remain so. Yet the universe can offer wonderful surprises and I am open to being happily surprised while building a satisfying life for myself.

hands touchingSomething that is seldom mentioned is the lack of simple touch in the lives of many older people. Currently, I still get to hold and cuddle my grandsons and I feast on it. I know they will grow out of such exuberant affection and then I must step back with grace. No duty kisses or cuddles for Grandmother. Kindly meant but potentially dangerous, they must feel free to say no to any unwanted touch, whether it is grandparents’ whiskery affection or something more sinister.

I would like to explore the possibility of massage as a source of sustaining touch. Perhaps the sports centre or massage students needing someone to practise on would have moderate fees?

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