I went to spend some time with friends one evening recently, and we were at the home of a middle-aged female relative of one of my friends. The home was, by all appearances, a fairly typical suburban, mormon home. Flowery decor, cute epithets in stitching on the walls, a piano with a little light atop it, doilies, the whole nine yards.
This lady isn't married, and I would guess she never has been, but I don't know that at all because I didn't ask my friend about it. She's a tough-looking woman with whom I'd rather not tangle but nonetheless seems warmly personable. And I thought, "OK, yes she's suspect, but regardless of the direction of her attractions, here's an older, single woman who has made a comfortable home into which she welcomes family and friends, and who obviously lends service to her community and seems to be living well." She had toys for visiting friends' and relatives' children. She had memorabilia from service she has given. She had a cheery and confident disposition. She had cross-stitches with hopeful messages designed to motivate on tougher days. Strangely, those things which most often seem trite or mundane to me took on a brighter glow.
It just sent my mind scanning over my years of life, so far, to all of the older, single people I've known and how much love they have offered to those around them, how much service they've rendered to their communities, and how meaningful they have made their time. Yes, there may be some component of "making up for" a deep deficit in their lives. Yes, they probably have hard, lonely nights in which they want nothing more than to hold someone they love or be held by a companion and protector. But notwithstanding, they move on. They live. They contribute. They offer and accept love in other ways in life. And in the process, they teach each of us to be more loving and open to those around us rather than limit our love and influence to only our supposedly self-contained families.
Sometimes, the thought of living "alone" for the rest of life is depressing, bleak, and completely draining. Other times, like when I see someone like this, I remember how it can be done and done well, and though it may not seem ideal, it doesn't seem so bad.