Tears filled Melanie’s eyes as she spoke of the gut searing sadness and loneliness, which resulted from not having a loving partner in her life, and not being meaningfully connected to her two adult children, or even to the few living members of her extended family.
At times she said she felt completely overwhelmed by this sense of aloneness.
“And to think,” she said, “for most of human history people lived in villages, and experienced lifetime connections to family and other residents of their particular village. Everyone was loved and cared for by others from infancy to the grave and often beyond.” She slowly shook her head from side to side, and the tears spilled from her eyes and ran down the sides of her sixty-six year old cheeks.
In one way or another many of us, but by no means all, will be negatively impacted in old age by the human societal evolution from the tribal/village way of life to today’s focus on the nuclear family. Since my personal experience somewhat parallels Melanie’s, I could partially relate to her sense of aloneness. There is certainly no doubt that an intimate living-together love connection greatly softens the sharp edge of loneliness, and perhaps that is the best hope for the healthy seniors amonst us.
Words from a very old American love song suddenly moved to the forefront of my mind: Just Molly and Me and Baby Makes Three. We’re Happy To Be In My Blue Heaven.
My Blue Heaven was a song recorded by over 100 artists, spanning five and possibly more decades. Frank Sinatra recorded it twice in two different decades of his long career. Its popularity speaks to our primary societal attachment to the nuclear family, as opposed to extended family relationships, exemplified during the tribal/village era of human history.
Melanie and I, along with millions upon millions of others, were no different when we were young. We focused our primary attention and almost all of our energies on our own nuclear families. Now we’re no longer young, and our former babies are adults in search of their own, cocoon-like blue heavens. And, yes, it behooves us as elders to muster the necessary courage to live the remainder of our lives to the fullest extent of our individual capacities, and to do so within a societal framework constructed for Just Molly and Me and Baby Makes Three.