One is the Loneliest Number
“She built herself a little house,
All walled about with Pride:
Took Prudence as a servant,
And locked herself inside.
She drew the blinds down tight as tight,
When sorrow chanced to roam.
Experience called – she sent down word
That she was not at home.
Then, wherefore, should she now complain
And wherefore, should she sigh,
That Life and Love and Laughter
Had passed unseeing by?"
Two events of this past week enabled the subject of today’s blog to hit me in the face:
a) The sudden death of a dear friend who took his last breath while out to dinner with his wife; and
b) a 'Letter to Amy', the current Ann Landers of the printed news, in which the writer told how lonely he was since the passing of his wife, and suggested that he needs people around him - but apparently has no friends - only a dog - to help him through his ordeal.
The lesson to be learned from these events is that as we take the journey through life we should never forget the importance of building loving relationships with others.
We are all human; we all need it. Loneliness, unfortunately, is all-too-natural -- and perhaps inevitable. But, until we get there ...
In the events I have described, the wife of my friend - who along with her husband were at my side constantly throughout my own wife Anna’s ordeal and afterwards - have continually, along with an unbelievable cadre of other friends, made sure that I am not alone.
The writer of the letter obviously, as so many widows and widowers have told me as I write my book, never took the time to establish meaningful relationships, and instead built a wall around themselves and the world.
As I myself have learned, we live at a time when our relatives are aging, our children often do not live close to us and we are longer involved in business relationships. Many of our friends are ill and coming to life’s end; if we have not begun at an early age to establish much-needed friendships, we to will be sad and lonely as we travel our last miles.
So, plan your life early, never let go of relationships that are meaningful and be there for them when they have a need, as you would want them to be with you during happy, as well as lonely, times of your life.
Remember, a friend is someone with whom you can get undressed emotionally.
Read on ...
Over the years I have derived a great deal of pleasure from your column, and as a physician I commend you for the fine job you do in the health field.
Here is something that a friend sent me in the mail recently. I don’t know who wrote it, but it gave me the best laugh I’ve had in a long time. I hope you will share it with your readers.
Your Friend (Name omitted for ethical reasons)
WHAT NOT TO NAME YOUR DOG
Everybody who has a dog calls him “Rover” or “Boy”.’ I call mine “Sex”. He’s a great pal but he has caused me a great deal of embarrassment.
When I went to city hall to renew his dog license, I told the clerk I would like a license for Sex. He said “I would like one too!” Then I said, “But this is a dog.”He said he didn’t care what she looked like. Then I said, “You don’t understand. I have had Sex since I was 9 years old.”
He winked and said “You must have been quite a kid.”
When I got married and went on my honeymoon, I took the dog with me. I told the motel clerk that I wanted a room for my wife and me and a special room for Sex.
He said “You don’t need a special room. As long as you pay your bill we don’t care what you do.”
I said, “Look, you don’t seem to understand. Sex keeps me awake at night.”
The clerk responded, “Funny, I have the same problem.”
One day, I entered Sex in a contest, but before the competition began, the dog ran away. Another contestant asked me why I was just standing there, looking disappointed. I told him I had planned to have Sex in the contest. He told me I should have sold my own tickets. “But you don’t understand,” I said. “I had hoped to have Sex on TV.”
He said “Now that cable is all over the place, it’s no big deal anymore.”
When my wife and I separated we went to court to fight for custody of the dog. I said, “Your honor, I had Sex before I was married.” The judge said, “This court is not a confessional. Stick to the case please.”
Then I told him that after I was married, Sex left me. He said, “Me too.”
Last night, Sex ran off again. I spent hours looking around town for him. A cop came by and asked, “What are you doing in this alley at 4:00 in the morning?”
I told him “I was looking for Sex.”
My case comes up on Friday.
I don't know what the moral of that joke is, other than, maybe: If you're feeling lonely, get a dog.
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Bernard ("Bernie") Otis is the author of the upcoming international bestseller, "How To Prepare For Old Age (If You Haven't Married Into A Wealthy Family)". If you have a question or comment, or a personal story about life and aging, please send me an email to email@example.com.