Flying Solo

Recently I was having a conversation with my son, and he asked me how I was feeling. I told him I was ok.  Every four or five months I see my cardiologist and primary care physician who monitor my health. For the most part I am fine: overweight as I have been most of my life, arthritis in my knees but generally in good health.  My son was concerned as he lives about 1200 miles away from me. I see him every three months and we speak three times a week. I assured him I have good neighbors who look out for me and a crew of guys who have worked for me for many years who monitor me as well.

It paused me to think about my co-pilot as I do every day and how she would tell me not to do certain activities; to remember I am not as young as I think I am and that I need to focus on my health. She forced me at times to go to the doctor and would accompany me to make sure I went .  As my wife’s primary caregiver, I put my health on the back burner and rarely went to a doctor for several years. I treated a cold or virus with rest and aspirin. I become my own physician. Absolutely the wrong way to do this!

As Herb Knoll often says when you are “flying solo” my words not his words you need to get a physical and focus on your health. As we grow older, we have certain health issues that can appear. If we don’t monitor them carefully, they can bloom into greater health problems. Rule Number 1 from Herb Knoll  “Get a check up and make sure you are ok”. I know my wife would want me to take care of my health. I can hear her telling me do the right thing and go to the doctor. Take your meds and live your life.

In addition to taking care of your physical health it’s important to take care of your mental health. Unfortunately for too long mental health has been viewed as something you do not want others to know about. It’s seen as a weakness that should not be shared. Mental health is vital for your well-being. I speak with my counsellor regularly and get sound advice with issues I am dealing with and need to address. It’s important to find the right path so you can move forward in your new life.

A study done at Harvard University many years ago states that happiness is found in finding purpose and meaning in your life. I mean no offense to my fellow Ivy League friends – I am a Columbia University graduate- but philosophers, religious leaders and motivational speakers have been talking about this since time immemorial. Finding purpose and meaning is the key to a successful and happy life. Its axiomatic and been proven countless times.

As I move forward in life I am becoming more comfortable being Tom . For 30 years I had a dual identity: Tom and Diane. Even though my wife died almost three years ago she is still embedded in me and will be forever. Her words and actions, thoughts and emotions are all a part of me. However, I am taking those gifts and moving forward with them as I become the new me. I am finding things that make me happy and give me a new sense of purpose. I love travelling and meeting new people.  I enjoy the groups I am a part of and I find that my joy is a work in progress.  

I wish I could create a blueprint on how to move forward after you loss your spouse. It is impossible to do as each of us travels a different path. What helps are the people around you:  family and friends, being open to new ways and ideas and so many opportunities life presents to us.  You may be flying solo but just know that help is available, and you are not alone.

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