4 Replies Latest reply on Jul 8, 2010 4:08 PM by JackHansen

    Valuing Friendship

      The topic for Week 4: A Significant Retirement under the category "Redefining Retirement" is friendship. Text and questions on this topic can be found in this June 21 post.
        • Re: Valuing Friendship
          Operafan
          Since retirement I keep in close touch with only two couples, former colleagues with whom I share a strong interest in serious music and drama.  I hear sporadically from half a dozen others.  I live about an hour from the college and seldom have occasion to make the trip.  I see neighbors and local acquaintances regularly, almost daily, when I take a walk, visit the local coffee shop and the public library, etc.  I am truly close to no more than three of these, and one person is very difficult, but the social contact is important to me not only for the chance to chat, which I value, and because I am kept in touch with occasional local volunteering opportunities (my health and continuing scholarly commitments make it impossible, at present, for me to have regular commitments of this kind), but for practical reasons as well.  People who know the area better than I do often tell me where to look for bargains, whom to hire for household repairs that I can't handle myself, etc.  My closest friends, however, almost all live far away and I stay in touch with them, and since my wife's death last year with all of my family, through e-mail and telephone calls.  The local chapter of the Coffee Party has just started to hold meetings and i expect to be an active part of this group.  In general, I find that in these later years making new friends is hard and maintaining close contact with former neighbors, etc., not easy.  My parish church is somewhat helpful in this regard, say a C, maybe C+
            • Re: Valuing Friendship
              I really appreciate your insights. Our experience has been somewhat different from yours, in part because both my wife and I have been engaged in making new friendships in the town to which we moved in retirement; and often a new friend that one of us makes becomes a friend of the other. Also, we have a daughter and grandchildren who live within a couple of hours drive. They provide still an additional network of friends. But, at the end of the day, I think that your point that deep friendships are a challenge to make at any stage of life, including retirement, is on the mark.
              Jack
                • Re: Valuing Friendship
                  Operafan
                  Jack, thanks for your response.  My wife was highly successful especially at transforming an acquaintanceship into a friendship, but I am less so, partly because I am still so busy, partly because of health issues.  No doubt personality plays the largest role.

                  Age makes a great difference.  We have lived, matured, achieved and failed in a different time, and most of our adventures are all but meaningless to anybody more than ten, or say fifteen years younger.  Talk among younger people often centers on TV shows that I don't watch, and among contemporaries on illnesses different from the ones that plague me.  That leaves sports, politics at all levels, and - how to produce complete silence when chatting with engineers - read any good books lately.  Discussions of gardening sometimes become lively, a lot livelier than my tomato plants and flowers are in this drought.  One difficulty for me, maybe not that common among retired academics generally, is that I was a professor of English and there are no others with whom I am in frequent face-to-face contact.  There is a local physicist who enjoys, as i do, the novels of Richard Russo.  Fine, but I have to drive seventy miles to talk about Shakespeare.  Phil O'Mara
                    • Re: Valuing Friendship
                      Phil,
                      And thank you for sharing. My recollection is that one place you looked for friendship was a local parish, but that turned out to be not too fruitful. Do I recall that correctly? When we moved to Greenville, SC about four years ago, when I went from full-time work to a part-time role, we visited a number of churches in the area. In one of them I met three men who are contemporaries with whom I have become quite close. One is a semi-retired professor of philosophy and two are retired business executives. Then, another retired professor, whom I knew when we were both at Penn State about 15 years ago, and his wife retired to this area; and we have reconnected as well. So for reasons much beyond any one thing I have done, I feel very fortunate to have these men as good friends at this stage of life. But were it not for meeting the three men who already lived in the area and my Penn State retiring here, things would be quite different.
                      Jack