My Go-to Pastime (don't judge me!)

by Chris
(Deep South)

Don't believe that all Italian families are big or happy.

I had two mentally deficient Italian-American parents, no siblings, very poor, my father loved gambling but hated work, didn't provide for my mother or me (he preferred his siblings to us) and ruined every celebration.

Without warning he committed suicide a week after I graduated from high school (which he wanted me to quit in my 2d year.)

He was also an atheist and tried to get me to stop believing but I was and am still a very firm believer, partly because I didn't want to be anything like him!

Thankfully I had decent peers who urged me to go to college which I did (& grad school where I met my husband). Neither he nor I like snow so we relocated to the Deep South in the 1970s.

We had no family here but made a lot of friends; however, due to their relocations, illnesses, deaths, etc we find ourselves stranded, owning a home in a neighborhood that started out pleasantly enough but has more recently become rife with howling coyotes, unfriendly pets, eye-sore cars, weed-strangled yards . . . Hubby refuses to move - we do like the location, the geography, the climate but not the 21st c. weirdness.

I spent my middling years working long hours, commuting in murderous traffic, giving my time and money to Christian charities which in many ways failed me when I was near death a few years ago due to an illness I contracted while abroad.
I also wrote books which were published and I've taught writing classes.

But now to my current dilemma: way back when, I escaped my parents' dysfunction into TV land. Now that my husband is retired, he looks up from his history tomes every evening to see me sitting there, watching, but due to a serious incurable injury, eye problems and a lack of sophisticated friends, TV is about all I feel up to doing. I am expert at finding worthwhile programming - but there must be something more intriguing I can afford to do at this stage of life.

No children, no pets. My husband and I have traveled a lot but my health has become too compromised for all that hard work - and travel is hard work, not something to put off indefinitely.

Before he retired, I was so lonely that I foolishly joined a "senior center" where I was hit on for sex, badgered for money and insulted by bitter divorcees or spinsters. When I tried addressing these issues with the overseers, my revelations went over like a lead balloon. I must say I was delighted when their shiny new costly building was shut down due to the pandemic. Nyah, nyah, NYAH!!!

Realistically, now that we know so much about Covid, I'm not sure I want to be among people any more. So what's left - besides TV?

Oh, and I used to have penpals way back in high school. My favorite was a high school girl in the Midwest. We wrote many long, philosophically heavy letters back and forth for two or three years. One day on a whim, I phoned her (long distance calls used to be a Big Deal) - when she realized I spoke like "the Kennedys" (that New England accent!) she LAUGHED AND LAUGHED AND LAUGHED at me. Never mind that I was and still am Conservative - like her! I recall politely putting the receiver down (remember receivers?) and shaking to my toes. Eventually, I learned from her brother that she had married and had children but died of a ravaging breast cancer. To this day, I wonder why she was so hurtful. So much for pen pals. At least TV has never laughed at me.

Comments for My Go-to Pastime (don't judge me!)

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My go Pastime
by: Donna

Your experience at the Senior Center is strange. It sounds more like being a new and unpopular high school student.

I know all centers are not the same but I joined one after retirement and have really enjoyed it. Lots of different things to do and people to meet. I wonder if you were unconsciously rubbing people the wrong way.

An idea
by: Anonymous

Maybe you should try writing letters again. There are a lot of very interesting people around the world who love to correspond with like-minded folks about a huge variety of interests and ideas. Some use snail mail only, while others like to take the email route. Writing to penfriends can be a very fulfilling activity!

Wendy: Join the Community, search for new friends under Members, write and see if they are interested... over 2000 in that private community! Some post in the forum itself, but many others connect privately outside the forum, after they find someone inside.

by: Chris/Deep South

Yes, Wendy, a travel page could provide enjoyable and even exciting reading. I'd share my recollections if readers express interest in specific destinations or topics.

I began my extensive overseas travels before 9/11/01, although even before then, in some places, hostility toward Americans could be unnerving although we were quite harmless and came in peace. Terrorism changed travel especially via planes and trains.

I'm sure Covid-19 will also impact travel, but how, I can't say.

Before and after 9/11, I got quite ill during several trips but I continued traveling anyway.

Armchair travels are a reasonable option!

Many thanks - where to start?
by: Chris/Deep South

Dear Michael - many thanks for your sweet and unexpected comments.

Yes, my husband ("D") and I have traveled a lot and I'd be glad to share (in small, easy-to-digest doses) but only if Retirement Online Readers would be interested - if so, where to begin?

To give you an idea of our range: D&I started by going on road trips across America (on our first anniversary, just for fun, we drove to Hell, Michigan!).

Then came many trips to Europe and beyond (all over Italy/Sicily, Greece, the Greek Islands, Egypt, Holy Land, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, cities special to Mozart - to celebrate his 250th anniversary - the mind boggles!). We went to Mexico a few times - a young Mexican-born lady whom I met on a plane to London told me that I had seen more of her country than she had!

D went three times to South America (twice to Peru, once to Argentina) - while D was away, I orchestrated much needed improvements to our old house (some stories there too). The only way I could tackle such big construction jobs was if D was out of the house for a month at a time. Whee!

What motivated us to do all this travel was our desire to see the world, shared interests in history, especially ancient history, and (most helpful) my college studies in Art History.

Our trips abroad were very intense, not exactly like lounging on the beach or going to Disney World (but we've been there too - we've been all over Florida during many road trips but we wouldn't want to retire there).

Thanks for asking!

Wendy: Chris, if you are willing, write about any of your travels. I will start a Travel Page to link the travel stories so they are all in one place.

Please include something about whether each place is good for seniors to visit or why it is a bit difficult... as you may encourage some travel as this world opens back up!

Who Knows? Maybe others will send in their travel stories too. This could be fun especially when most of us are still stuck at home!

Virtual Travel from the comfort of our homes!

Travel again and share your stories
by: Michael - Upstate NY for the summer!

You love to write. You have published books. You enjoy travel. You live in the Deep South. Your husband loves history.

I see the potential for a series of articles/short stories about your future travel trips with your husband to places of history throughout the Southern USA. And, your first story might even be about your own neighborhood!

Pen Pals
by: Wendy, Retirement Enthusiast/Coach

Just had to reply to your pen pal story... sad.

I don't think she was laughing AT YOU, in any sense at all, she was laughing because your accent was unexpected. She likely expected you to laugh with her (thinking you both knew each other well enough). So sad...

You sound rather sad, depressed, bitter, to me. Maybe just maybe you need gratitude or something in your life. OK, you can't travel, but you can do day trips -- drive to a park, somewhere new to explore, just get out of the house and into the sunshine and fresh air. Why Not? Drive out of your local community to a nearby restaurant and eat something different?

I am curious what your education and employment field was... is it possible you could take your lifetime of XX online? It's quite possible you could earn an income AND have something rewarding to do.

Write to me, if interested, by email and we will brainstorm possibilities!

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