Q: I am an elderly widow. I live alone, and I retired after 45 years working full-time. Now the days seem long, and I need something to do to occupy my time and energy. What could I do to help me feel more needed and wanted?
A: I have a neighbor who fits your description. To fill her days, she acts as the neighborhood watcher, which helps the neighborhood, too. While standing in her upstairs bathroom and curling her hair, she observes the street and the people walking by. Using her well-honed pattern-recognition skills, she is instantly able to see when something is amiss.
There have been several burglaries in the neighborhood, and they seemed to have stopped, so this is a big help. She picks up neighbors' newspapers in the morning, watches their homes and waters their plants when they are on vacation. She accepts package deliveries when neighbors are not home. She has even organized a few last-minute babysitting emergencies!
As you can see, she uses her time to her advantage. She is very popular in the neighborhood. When she recently accidentally set off her own security alarm, dozens of neighbors instantly came to her aid to make sure she was safe.
The bottom line is the neighborhood is much safer and works better, and the elderly widow still feels a sense of purpose. It's all for the better. — Doug
Q: I haven't spoken to my brother in seven years, but I recently heard from a cousin that he had a health scare. Realizing that we are both nearing the end of life, I don't want to lose the opportunity to reconcile. On the other hand, I don't know whether I can forgive him for his part in our rift.
What should I do?
A: Go with your instincts, and make the effort to reach out. It's hard to know whether you will feel emotionally fulfilled, or even whether your brother will be amenable to talking again. However, you may never forgive yourself if you lose the chance to see whether your relationship can change.
Aside from exploring your options, you may get a new perspective on your estrangement. Ideally, you and your brother will come to a new understanding and fix your relationship.
However, don't be disappointed if you are unsatisfied with his words or behavior. Your purpose in extending an olive branch is so to reach an internal sense of resolution. When you let go of the resentment in your heart, you are helping yourself.
Although your brother may have hurt you, you are the one allowing the past to continue weighing on you. Let go of your anger toward him, and try to understand what motivates his behavior. Acknowledge any mistakes you may have made, and don't repeat them.
You can't change your past relationship, but you can move forward if you release your anger. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.