By Georgie Bright Kunkel
What does it mean to retreat? We all know what a vacation means—getting away from work and one’s usual home environment. But retreat has another connotation. It means to go somewhere far from the madding crowd and lay back and meditate and replenish oneself. When I was taking care of my late husband for several years I had only one vacation visiting my niece in Mexico City. Since I got sick soon after arriving, it was not the usual vacation I can tell you. So after that I settled for going on the comedy stage to let off steam, as it were. Previously my husband had gone with me to give me moral support in my efforts to polish my comic persona. When he could not leave the house because of his condition, he would send me off with this remark, “Break a leg.” In the entertainment business this is a backhanded way of giving support to someone going on stage.
All my life I have found humor in everything around me. After my husband died I joked about being lonely but wondering if there was any man my age still alive. Recently I saw a message on Linked In from a fellow who said he was seeking a mate who is caring, giving, compassionate, encouraging, communicative, and who enjoys holding hands, hugging, cuddling and who is not selfish or self centered and would be a mate for life. What a list of requirements! I had gone on Linked In to communicate with other writers but didn’t expect to be propositioned. Even if I were in his age bracket and not already partnered, I doubt if anyone could live up to his standards.
Since my companion is now in football retreat I thought I ought to engage in a retreat of my own so I signed up for a women’s weekend retreat. I soon got acquainted with women of all ages. Some were partnered or married while others were single or widowed. We could share our inner thoughts and the rule was that what was revealed there would remain there. Such a freeing experience with a chance to recreate together, walk silently through the trees, share thoughts about life, take a nap, work on a jigsaw puzzle or play ping pong.
I tasted food that I would never try to cook at home—blintzes for example. All six meals were enjoyed without having to shop or cook or do dishes. Walking to and from the dining room provided exercise in fresh air instead of breathing in the car exhaust that I usually inhaled during a walk around a city block at home. But I had to rough it since the bathroom was accessed by walking outside and down the sidewalk to the end of the row of sleeping rooms. My usual night-owl ritual was shed for an early breakfast bell before 8:00 a.m. and three full meals a day.
After this idyllic retreat, I returned home to the sound of an electric saw buzzing away next door. The huge double trunk evergreen tree that we had planted when we had owned the property was now downed and the razing of our first little home completed to make room for a newer, larger home for a young couple.
The neighbors who live across the street have young children. Hopefully there will soon be more children in my neighborhood who will turn to this seasoned neighbor, me, so I can share my wisdom with them. My wish for intergenerational living may finally be coming true. Hooray.
Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-935-8663.