Compounded loneliness

June 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

THis is an email I received a few days ago. The author agreed to let me post his email  on this blog: “I am an open book,” he added.

While I do not live in SF, I hope that something in my story might help you with your work.

I live in in a 55+ senior mobile home community.  I will be 80 in July..   I have two children leaving in another state and I’ve been divorced since ‘80 (ex-wife died in ‘91).

I have had HIV disease 25 years.  Serious loss of hearing was first confirmed on that memorable 9/11/2001.  In March 2009 I had a spontaneous fracture of my left hip and stubbornly refused to see a doctor for nearly a month until a friend dragged me to the hospital for a replacement.    I still have difficulty walking and cannot do so more than two or three blocks.

That should be enough background.  I’d like to show you that a community such as my present one is really not much different than an apartment house in San Francisco.  There are 41 mobile homes in this park, some 40 or more years old and a few less than 12 years; mine dates from 1999.  The single factor which connects us to an SF apartment community is loneliness.  It is pervasive here but with probably 41 different reasons.  At one end are the folks who struggle to pay their space rent (which the landlord raises every few months) and put food on the table.

Half of the homes have single occupants, mostly female.  Seven people have died here since I arrived.  Several have moved away to live with children or in assisted-care facilities.  I will be one of the latter group later this year.

My primary reason for the decision to move is not financial.  I live on the edge of that but like others of my generation, children during the great depression of the 1930s, I can handle that.  The reasons are isolation and loneliness.  I see it in my neighbors also, even the ones who have family in this area.  Some have family here that visit only rarely, a few have family that never visit or cannot (one has a son in prison).  A few have no family.  Others like me have family hundreds of miles away.

We seem to outlive our friends in many cases.  Making new ones is very difficult.  Let me say this: I am not sitting on the pitty pot.  I am trying to state facts objectively.  I know no one here who ever goes to one senior centers.   I don’t see any of my neighbors as active or regular members of any religious group.  I am an atheist.  I don’t use or have a telephone as I cannot hear the person at the other end of the line.  I rely on e-mail for contact with friends and family.  I distrust Facebook and Twitter, et. al., so do not join either.  Most of all I miss my beloved classical music.  When I was still working I would dream of retirement surrounded by good books and good music.  Books are not a big part of my day as I cannot comfortably sit for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time.

Loneliness for seniors like me is also compounded by being the only gay man in an age group not exactly accepting or tolerant.   San Francisco is too expensive for someone with an income ($1080 per month SS plus $240 for the room I rent) like mine.

I took care of my mother the last 19 years of her life.  She died here at home on her 100th birthday in September 2007.  I hope that I spared her the feeling of loneliness despite the fact that only one of her friends out lived her.

Let me say one more time, I am appreciative of your interest in the subject.  I am sure it is not only professional but also personal for you.  May you find great success in your chosen work.




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