It was the end of another season.
“What would be my new chapter in life”, I asked myself. The loneliness of Spring had turned into Summer and a looming overcast of loneliness and sorrow. The season ahead was to be festive and family-oriented.
Having become hopeless and tired, I became a group therapy participant at a local, neighborhood community center. In group therapy, I felt that I could meet some new friends, which would be a good starting point for me to socialize.
Initially, it was difficult for me to orient myself with the other group members. They were complete strangers. I had no knowledge of any of them. But, I must admit, that some of them looked quite familiar.
It wasn’t long before I learned that we were all lonely and that each one of us had no male companion in our lives.
The group was a mixture of ages and ethnicities. There was a huge, tall coffee maker nearby and a bold steam of coffee filled the entire room. It was a delicious smell! And right next to the coffeemaker were condiments, paper cups with an assortment of pastries. And, we had our fair share of coffee and treats.
On my first attendance, I opened up introducing myself as Tillie Evans, and that I was at the ripe old age of 78, had been a widow for 5 years. I told the group of my longing for children and grandchildren and that my late husband Bruce and, I had none.
Throughout the years, Bruce and I enjoyed the hobbies of bowling, and playing bridge. Sadly, bowling alleys went out of business, and our closest friends divorced, moved away and many of them died.
During group, it became apparent that I was the oldest. And, as I continued speaking on and on about my life, my missing links and about my sorrows and shortcomings, other women began to open up and share their similar circumstances.
So, there we were, all women, filled with dispair and with voids in our lives: victims of spousal abuse, no families, foster home survivors, life traumas, spouses in prison, widows, hard on luck, abandoned-untrusting, victim of handicaps, and as such, each voiced her sentiments.
Twice a week we would meet and, each time I became more comfortable. Our group was so blessed, and with each meet we always prayed. Nearly everyone in the group was a great cook and contributed to the weekly coffee potluck. Being a great cook, too, I started bringing an appetizer platter assorted with meats and cheeses on crackers and toasties. The group grew even larger as weeks passed.
Gisela became my best friend. I was twice her senior. We were both widows with unfulfilled maternal instincts. Gisela like myself, never had children, and her husband had died five years previous in a plane crash on a business trip to Greece. Gisela shared that her husband was an optical salesman on his way to a convention.
Soon, all of the young women in the group became very fond of Gisela and I. Many of the women were in need of all kinds of help. So, it wasn’t long before Gisela and I would become matriarch-mentors (mommas and grandmas) to the other ladies. We started babysitting for the young mothers who were looking for jobs. The community center added on licensed child care center.
Gisela and I started a very successful catering business. We combined our living quarters and business onto her property lot. My home became a rental, that was rented by four group members who in turn did just as Gisela and I. Each of them began helping other women turn their lives around.