Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Problem with Closets

I'm not sure if I mentioned it last year. A very elderly lady from church spent quite some time in hospital and I visited every week. Let's call her Miss London.
Miss London is in her mid-eighties so during my visits, not being sure what to talk about, I asked about her life. She mentioned a woman friend who she was quite close to, they served in the Army together and retired together. If I remember right, they bought a house together. At some time the friend developed breast cancer and died. Miss London was alone in the world again and it was at that time she moved to Australia.
When she retired from nursing, she sold her flat and moved to a retirement village where she met Miss Missionary. They shared a car and travelled to church together, they shopped for each other and accompanied each other to medical appointments. The more I think about it, the more I imagine they may have been partners....
Miss Missionary shuffled off the coil last week after a tough enough and long enough illness and Miss London was quick to tell me I was the only person she received condolences from. I once asked Miss London if she had boyfriends as a young woman and she said she did but that she knew marriage was not for her. I was offering her a chance to come out to me, if appropriate but she never did and I can't help but wonder if Miss London has lost not only a friend but a partner.

22 comments:

  1. Poor Miss London. Loneliness (from whatever cause) is a killer. Sometimes literally. Partner or not, it sounds as if Miss Missionary was one of her few regular contacts. No wonder she opened up (as far as she could) to you.

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    1. Yes, whatever their relationship it is a big loss.
      I think I have a photo of the three of us somewhere......

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  2. The term partner is is interesting. I have two friends. When one, who lived in London, had her four children her husband was taken ill and died. She was bereft and came to live on the Island where she already had a house which was let. She and the lady who had rented the house have now lived together for, perhaps, 40 years. (They are no longer youngsters!). I suspect that they do not conform to the term 'partner' in any way other than that they have been close friends living together. They have been dear friends to me all that time and I cannot even begin to contemplate what might happen when one of them dies.

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    1. I'm not usually a fan of the word partner but these women never really seemed to fit the words girlfriends or lovers. The exact nature of their relationship is mostly irrelevant and I hear what you are saying about your friends. I suppose I was reflecting on the loss of a romantic interest and not having that loss recognised by those around.

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    2. Interestingly, Kylie, I am a fan of the word partner. 'She is my wife' always seemed to convey ownership (which might well not be the case but simply a perception). 'She is my partner' conveys an equal share in the relationship. It does, of course, also rather imply these days that you are not married to each other. It's not really anyone else's business whether there is a sexual content to the relationship. I agree that if two people do love each other romantically as well as having the love of friendship, it's a sadness if that is not recognised.

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    3. I very much dislike the modern use of the word "partner". To me it is a word that should be reserved for business or industry. I can remember a time when nobody would ever use the word "partner" in relation to loving relationships. It is a modern day fad that speaks of political correctness and following a herd which rarely pauses to consider the nuances of vocabulary. Obviously Mr Edwards does not fit in with that characterisation but there are of course exceptions to every rule.

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  3. It must be an awful thing to hide your true self as you live your life - not to be able to shout out "This is who I am! Love me or loathe me!"

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    1. I've got to say, YP, that for the most part Miss London is very straight forward about everything. But we all have our limits. I just hope she is ok

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  4. Some people shun lesbians here. Death is too religious to even celebrate love between same sex. If god is against same sex love, then the religious folk had better steer clear so god will not think they approve!

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    1. Unfortunately, the south is not the only place. Not so long ago I was stunned to hear a man, a scholar, analyse the biblical statements about homosexuality. He concluded that the bible says very little but that we still should regard it as wrong. I believe that the man himself would be kind and affirmative but while he spouts that theology he gives licence to the haters

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  5. The older people were never comfortable to come out.

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    1. Yes. And that is ok with me. It can place them in a particularly lonely place, though

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  6. How kind of you to express sympathy to your friend over the loss of her companion. I can remember when one of my best friends moved to a different state, and though we were just good friends, we both mourned the loss of a next door neighbor friendship. (And yes we have maintained the friendship but it is a different friendship than it was)

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    1. There is nothing better than a friendship where you are able to see each other in the flesh often and at short notice. How annoying of people to get up and move!

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  7. It's always an odd situation when you suspect two women (or men) are partners rather than friends but they never confirm and you just go on wondering. Strange though that you were the only person who offered condolences. Did she have no other friends or relations?

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    1. I actually never thought about then as a couple until one died and I started thinking more.
      Miss London was raised by a housekeeper, her twin died at birth, the friends she has had are in the UK or have passed on. She has recently discovered a brother but is not close to him at this time. She is a straight talker with no ability to suffer fools gladly so I thinkin some ways she is a victim of her own discernment

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  8. Best to keep an eye on her, which I'm sure you will. I know it's morbid, but I sometimes fear being the last one left alive after all my family and friends have gone. That must be a terribly lonely place to be... no one to share memories with, and everything else there is with lifelong friends.
    Sx

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    1. I have never once considered being the last of a group although I should have, I have been to funerals of just a handful of people

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  9. There are a great many single women in our church and do often wonder if they may be gay but remain in the closet their whole lives, never even having a partner. It must be a lonely life.

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    1. yes, dreadfully lonely! and yet there are still those who would condemn them to it

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  10. Well, it is a fact that there is about 1 available man for every 20 women after a certain age :) I choose to be single but have male (and female) friends. We women live a lot longer - I too dread being the last one standing. I am the youngest sibling of five and try not to think about that too much as I age.

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    1. Yes, on balance there have to be a lot of single women especially as age creeps up.
      I have never thought about being the last one standing. I might deny my mortality a bit longer, if that's ok

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