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A wise comment from one of my supporters about the cost of not needing anyone

Dear Reader: The below is from Penny Nelson, a wonderful woman, retired geologist and spinner who is kind enough to allow me to regularly quote her comments. They are always terrific. This one in particular struck me as I am also fiercely independent, and have recently been forced to have to count on and lean into others' help. I hope you find her points as important as I did.

Penny writes:

I have never been a single adult. I left my parents home for college and then got married. I love my husband dearly and have for all the 52 years we've been married. Yes, there have been times when choking the life out of him while he slept seemed like a great idea but happily I never gave in to that urge. We have weathered our trials and tribulations pretty well. I didn't kill him. He didn't kill me and we are still speaking and still making love. I have single friends as well as married friends with no children. It all seems normal to me.

I just want to mention my friend Nancy who died this past year. She never married and had no children. She had no siblings and no close family. She liked her goats better than any people she knew and was not particularly popular with her more distant relatives. When she got sick almost a year ago the word went out among her friends and we all pitched in to take care of her as she got sicker and sicker. And after she died, we rehomed all her menagerie of animals and got her home and possessions sold. To that extent is was a total success. Her friends stepped in and took the roles that would have belonged to her close family if she had a close family.

I'm not sure what is normal for tearing apart a person's life - her collection of animals, furniture, clothing and all the other stuff. Not to mention the bills that needed to be paid. We did all that and came to understand the many decisions she made that in the cold light of day and with 20/20 hindsight, were questionable.

She was fiercely independent and so proud that she didn't need anyone else in her life. Except I would hope that a husband, or lover or close friend might have suggested some of her ideas were as stupid as they turned out to be before she went ahead with them. She didn't have a trusted person to speak up and say something along the way. In the end she was left with no money that would have helped with her care as she was dying.

I'm not suggesting that anyone or everyone needs a life partner. But sometimes having someone else who is privy to what you are intending to do might be a good thing. I know my husband and my kids would try to talk me out of doing things they thought were truly not in my best interest. My best friend, Peggy, would do the same and I would for her. But I know people who really need an advisor and who don't seem to have one. (author bolded)

Americans love the idea of being so independent we just don't need anyone. Penny's story underscores for me just how foolish that is, and how costly it can be not only to ourselves but to those stuck with cleaning up the messes we may leave behind.

As someone who long suffered this same kind of assumption, that if I needed someone I might be beholden to them, or be dumped (of course that happened) or whatever limp excuse we gin up to justify our behavior, this speaks right to my face.

I have been redirecting lately for that reason. No husband, no kids, but I have friends. And while it is a minor blow to the overblown ego, allowing people to help me especially during a recent trip when I blew out a knee, it was a very necessary lesson.

I got it.

With so many more of us aging single, what are the conditions which surround you? Are we welcoming help and love, which are gifts to the giver as much as they are to us?

Or are we so damned determined to show everyone how little we need anybody that we complicate our lives, and those of people who truly do care, with our rigidity?

Good questions. I pondered them recently. Have my answer. I am slowly but surely learning to accept help when offered, ask for it when it's needed, and be damned grateful that there is anyone close to me willing to do such a loving thing in the first place.

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