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“Moving Forward and Making Friends” by Martha Villanigro-Santiago

Recently a group of neighbors reminded me about the importance of moving forward. After retiring they each moved to a smaller home, and most have been living alone for many years. Most interesting to me is their active schedule. They told me about their weekly group exercise sessions, and their regular meetings for coffee, lunch or just some friendly conversations. When I told them that I was surprised about their busy schedules, they explained that growing old does not mean you stop living. As far as they are concerned, connecting with friends or meeting new people, is the best way to continue living.

A new friend is just a smile away!

When my grandmother was alive, she was my best example of believing in moving forward. She was in her early 40’s when she immigrated to the United States. She never learned to speak English; however she made lots of friends at her various jobs and in her neighborhood. Her happiness and positive disposition was evident to all that saw her, when they looked at her smiling eyes.

From her late 60’s to the end of her life, she lived alone, but she was rarely at home. I would call her apartment several times a day before finding her sitting at home. She spent most her days at church and completing her errands walking to various places in the neighborhood. Sometimes she took day trips with her church group. Fortunately for my sister and I my grandmother never declined an invitation to visit, in spite of the airplane ride. Her gradually declining eyesight never stopped her from walking out the door of her apartment. In fact her friends from church expected to see her everyday. She told me that if she didn’t go out, one of her friends would call her at home to make sure she was alright. She emphasized that she was happy and felt blessed for the beautiful friendships they all shared.

Life is always changing. The good news is we don’t need to experience these changes alone. Think about the people you have contact with everyday. When you walk out of your home you probably see neighbors or others on the street that you know. Perhaps you recognize one of the other shoppers in the supermarket or individuals standing on the line at the same bank branch that you visit. Next time you are out stand still for a few moments and consider sharing time with one or a couple of individuals. This may be your opportunity to continue enjoying life, while moving forward and making a friend.

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