The Lil Report, Part III.
Two weeks ago, we heard from an athletic, attractive, outspoken widow living in Leisure World. "Lonely in Laguna"--Lil for short--wrote a candid and amusing letter about single life in the retirement community.
"I'm 61, look 51 and feel 45," Lil wrote. "I like to boogie--I like light rock--and am really going stir crazy here. Bought a place here because they are affordable . . . but I might as well be dead as be surrounded by people who almost are."
In an interview, the East Coast transplant, mother of four grown sons, discussed the shock and sadness she felt when her husband died five years ago, her longing for an adventurous "galfriend" to keep her company and the difficulty of finding romantic companionship in "the so-called golden years."
Lil's comments struck a chord among her peers. Last week, we published excerpts from two letters of support and interviews with three local seniors who called to "confirm"--in one man's words--Lil's frustration, loneliness and refusal to "just dry up and blow away."
More--and varied--opinions from this week's mail:
Dear Single Life,
Now you've really done it! I'm not ordinarily a writer of letters to the editor, but I had difficulty restraining myself after reading your (column two weeks ago) regarding poor little Lil, who is lonely in Leisure World. (Last week's column, with follow-ups on Lil) really had me and 98% of Leisure World residents who love living here up in arms.
Lil unfortunately seems to be an arrested adolescent whose idea of living a full life is to attract men. Why doesn't she enter the present age where women find fulfillment in making new friends, both feminine and masculine, in improving their minds and skills, and in volunteering and working in the community to justify their existence in this beautiful world?
Maturing gracefully is a very important part of living. Apparently Lil has difficulty in making friendships because she is so completely involved in herself. . . . Why doesn't she enroll in one of the hundreds of classes available here, where she may expand her horizons and also make friendships if she proves herself worthy of them? Why doesn't she join one of the 200 clubs and organizations in Leisure World?
I'm a woman of 81 who lost her husband seven years ago after 52 years of a wonderful marriage. Every day I'm grateful for the providence that brought (my late husband and I) to Leisure World 12 years ago. We joined every club and activity that we could crowd into our calendars--classes, golf, sports, dancing.
We were delighted at the sheer fun we were having, so we both volunteered for worthwhile weekly work in our community to justify what we were getting from it. There again, we made many new friends at the library, the thrift shop, the hospital. We were constantly amazed at the interesting backgrounds of Leisure Worlders--former college presidents, judges, doctors, dentists, lawyers, bankers, statesmen, executives of national corporations, governors, teachers, ad infinitum. All are enjoying life to the limit. And also, we had never seen a better-looking group of people than those who turn out to our social events.
After my husband's death, I sorely missed the things we did as a couple, but (I) am busier than ever with the many, many friends, both men and women, we had made through the years.
Grow up, Lil, and resolve to break that "Poor Little Me" attitude that surrounds you, and you too might be able to find happiness in our Shangri-La, Leisure World.
Dear Single Life,
Hurray for Lil and for Irving and Maureen whose letters (of support to Lil) you published (last week).
I, too, am a young senior, 60 years old, desperately looking for companionship in general and for that special man in particular. I have been widowed for 11 years, have had one long-term relationship since then and some shorter-term affairs. I felt so independent the first few years of my widowhood that I turned down a very lucrative marriage proposal--I will always rue my stupidity for doing so.
I am still very sexy and very romantic and am now ready to settle down with a man in my life. But where to find him? I have lived in Orange County for a little over a year. I lived in the San Fernando Valley for 35 years prior to moving down here and now feel like a "woman without a country."
I have no friends my age here; I am a little too shy to go out by myself, and besides I am still working full time. Most of the activities for "seniors" that sound somewhat interesting take place during the day.
I like my work and I am thankful that I can still handle the stress and the workload, but the evenings are long and lonely. It would be nice if some of us young and active seniors could meet and start a social group. Any suggestions?
Loneliness is terrible, it feels like a dark cloud over my head.
Dear Single Life,
I am a retired psychologist. Unlike (Lil), I don't feel "buried alive" or bored. What I do feel is incompletely used.