A beautiful passage and a bit close to the heart. Apologies for the long post!
For most of my life, I wasn't exposed to the concept of being alone. I am 41 now and well into my early thirties, I never realized that people can be alone or feel lonely. I'm an only child and my parents always let me do things by myself. We are not this typical family where everyone does everything together and so I'm used to doing things by myself or taking my own decisions. I could easily have lunch by myself at school or spend a full day alone even when I was quite young. Even now, I can go and watch a movie alone or have dinner at a quiet place all by myself. However, it is in the last few years that I feel lonely at times.
I have a good friend from work - Tinaz who I met almost 16 years back. She has been sending me a "Good Morning" message almost everyday for the past few years. I am not into sharing daily or regular forwards or greetings but just to acknowledge this sweet gesture, I respond back to her message everyday. This never had any major impact on me until a few months back a thought came to my mind that when I pass away, Tinaz might be the only person to realise that I'm no more since she checks upon me every single day. At that point, I did feel less lonely in this big world :) Tinaz mentioned a couple of years back that her mom told her that we both shall be there for each other till the very end. I viewed it to be a sweet thought at the time but it has more value now.
My other experience was when my beloved grandma suffered from dementia the last 2 years of her life. She was the most giving, loving and caring person and would always be there for everyone. She was always full of life and led a very simple life. Her family, siblings and friends meant the world to her. I had not experienced anyone in my family go through any physical or mental issues till my grandma suffered from dementia. I always wondered why her? She was such a sweet soul and I could never understand why she had to go through this suffering or abandonment in life. She was mentally confused for most of her last 2 years, forgot people, relations and she would always refer to me as a boy. She had even forgotten that I'm her granddaughter. I was just some boy living in the house. She loved to see what I would wear for work everyday and would get excited like a small kid to walk me outside to say bye before I left for work but she would still refer to me as a boy.
The sad part is that almost everyone she cared for stopped calling or visiting her in those 2 years just stating that she wouldn't remember that they called or visited and she doesn't speak anything relevant over the phone like she wouldn't even remember what day it is or what she had for breakfast or lunch nor make any sense of what the other person is saying and so on. The reality was that it would always bring her immense joy when someone visited or called her though she would get super tensed if anyone asked her anything, maybe because she wouldn't remember what to reply. I guess what everyone thought was right from their point of view but having stayed close to a person who went through dementia, all I can say is that though they are in touch with the current situation nor have much mental clarity, they long for company, affection and warmth. They need people to show them that they are still part of the community and not feel left out or alone. A huge thanks to my mom for taking care of my grandma religiously. I must say that it wasn't an easy task even with the help at home but we are very happy to have been able to try and make the situation as comfortable and happy for her as possible.
Another experience is around my neighbor who lives 3 houses away from my place. He is a widower. His kids stay abroad and he stays all by himself. He has leg problems and stays home mostly except for the occasional visit to the doctor or his native place which is a few hours away from the city. He has befriended my dad and calls our house at least 4-5 times if my dad doesn't visit him. My dad enjoys spending time with him but skips visiting him if there is something interesting to watch on the sports channel. However, my neighbor rings up my dad and ensures he visits him. I find it hilarious. They have a conflict of interest - My dad loves to watch sports whereas my neighbor likes to watch soap operas but they somehow find a common ground and spend time with each other. He calls my dad if the cook doesn't show up and requests my dad if he can bring him some breakfast, He has now become part of the family.
A few months back my neighbor had come outside the house in the night to lock the gate and fell down and hurt himself, A passerby recognized him as my dad's friend and called our house and my dad took him to the hospital and got him treated. He asked me to WhatsApp his kids. They might have called him directly but they never responded to my message. They were supposed to visit him but I believe they later changed the plan to go elsewhere for summer vacation. During the visit they had planned to move him to his native place. His brother and family stays a few hours away from there and they had agreed to take care of him. They had even rented a place for the last 3-4 months and my neighbor visited the place a couple of times but he finally decided against moving to his native. I feel he has now found a friend in my dad and does not feel all the lonely
I think that people might feel alone or lonely at any stage in life and it is really special to have that someone who can make them feel alive. Also, it is not just humans, even animals at times need that special someone to make them feel loved.
Few years back there was a stray puppy in our street. It always looked thirsty, hungry, alone and lost. My dad would put some water in front of our house and give some food.
We had construction going on next door and the puppy would sleep there sometimes. When the new neighbors moved it, they adopted this puppy and named him Bingo! Now he is loved, pampered and has a family. I see a huge difference in his personality and can see the sparkle and joy in his eyes, GOD bless the family for making Bingo part of their life! :)