Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Eternal Quest

     Last week at Chautauqua I learned, from British religion writer Karen Armstrong, about the four fundamental instincts that drive human beings. She called them the 4 Fs. There is fear. Then there's the instinct to fight. The necessity of food. And the last one, she said, is  . . . reproduction.

     Along somewhat similar lines, B and I visited my daughter recently, which occasioned B to ask how my daughter's mother was doing these days. Her mother, my ex-wife, moved down south after we got divorced. She had some family in Georgia, and actually, now, both of her brothers are living in the same general vicinity, so they're all kind of together now.

     My ex-wife's twin brother also got divorced a couple of years ago. Then, last year he retired. He doesn't have any kids, so he's living on his own. He recently decided to move to a smaller home closer in to Atlanta.

     Meanwhile, my ex is also on her own. When she first moved to Georgia, she bought a multi-acre spread out in the country so she could have horses and other animals. But now she's older, and she too has decided to move into a smaller house nearer to Atlanta, in part to be closer to her twin brother, as well as her other brother and her nephew, who both live in the Atlanta area.

     Now my ex-wife is not exactly flush with cash. I don't know the particulars; but I'm pretty sure she's spent down quite a bit of the money she had when we split up, almost 15 years ago. I know she was working for a while; but I also know she hasn't  worked at all for the last few years. Whether she planned it this way or not, she's retired now.

     I also know my ex brother-in-law had a pretty decent career, and retired with some kind of pension; but even so, the divorce must have eaten into his savings, and now he too is on a fixed income.

     So what I suggested -- half in jest; but half seriously, too -- was that my ex-wife and her twin brother, instead of each buying their own house, buy a house together. After all, they're both moving; they're both going to Atlanta. Neither one has a lot of extra money; both are single. They could help each other out financially; provide companionship; and support each other in many ways.

     My ex-wife dismissed the idea out of hand. Live with my brother? Are you kidding!?!

     But as I was telling B, they're both now in their late 60s. My ex-wife did have a boyfriend for a while; but they split up a couple of years ago, and I can't imagine she's going to get together with another guy at this point in her life. And her brother . . . he'd had a few girlfriends when he was younger, but he never got married until he was well into his 40s; and then the marriage really didn't go all that well. I can't imagine he's going to be interested in a serious girlfriend at this stage of the game.

     At which point B looked at me. "Well," she said, "I think you're probably right about your ex-wife. I mean, women, at a certain point, kind of wash their hands of the whole thing, and say to themselves, 'Okay, I've had enough of that.'

     "But men," she continued, wryly. "Men . . . they never give up."

     I didn't quite know what to make of that comment. So all I did was smile and say, "Well, on behalf of men everywhere, thanks for the compliment!"

     But I don't think she meant it that way.


Anonymous said...

I guess it depends on how people get along. Peaceful co-existence would be ideal.

Anonymous said...

Tom, you just proved a well known point: women can live alone but men, regardless of age, can't. Nothing wrong with that. Men will often always find a companion, regardless.
As a side note, I wanted to tell you I enjoyed your article in US World News so much, I blogged about it:

Terri said...

I don't know anything about their family dynamics, but purchasing a duplex could certainly be an option.

Anonymous said...

Interesting lead-in to your post. I would not live with anyone but David at this point. Not a sibling, not a child. I might live near someone, but only if they move near me. I think there are two emotions. Fear, anger, spring from the same place, fear of loss. Joy is more difficult to find as we age and simply know too much. Never say never with remarriage. My Ex at 76 remarried a gold digger who a year later inherited everything. My kids were mostly left out in the cold. I tend to think these re marriages have more to do with economic than anything else.

Stephen Hayes said...

No, I don't think it was intended as a compliment.

Tabor said...

She was know.

Dick Klade said...

Nowadays, anything I can take as a compliment, I do.

Tom Sightings said...

Cindi, thanks for noticing, and blogging about, my U S News column -- which, by the way, anyone can catch up on by clicking on "Sightings at U S News & World on Retirement" in the right-hand column of the blog.

As far as the nature of the compliment goes, well, I just find that no matter what the topic of conversation, if I just smile and say, "Thanks for the ... whatever," then it seems to make everything okay. B thinks I'm a little daft, but she loves me anyway.

And I agree, men as a rule don't do as well alone. I'd hate to be alone.

Anonymous said...


After airing your ex's private circumstances, as well as those of her siblings and passing judgment on their sexual lives... tell me, are they still speaking to you?

Hauola said...

From the female perspective I offer a few observations. Living together, whether related by blood or marriage or a close romantic relationship, involves an agreeable and cooperative mix of consideration, caring and compassion. This formula, with financial compatibility as well, needs fine tuning on a regular basis. Solo living did not come to my doorstep until I was in my mid-50's, and only after the dissolution of two marriages with the latter being of a longer duration. For close to five years I have shared my life with my companero and live in a committed relationship. We have individual interests, yet he and I have numerous shared interests. In looking back at those solo living years I admit I was ready to live alone as I did not know what the future held, and I was open to the possibilities of another long-term relationship. I did not know the four fundamental instincts (not so much the reproductive one) were working in the background.

Pam said...

Tom, this post is thought provoking on several levels. As a retired woman, I find it fascinating that many of my friends are recreating their lifestyles due to uncertain finances. People live longer and costs continue to rise. Sharing a home and living expenses might be a necessity for many, and although there are challenges, there are many benefits when caring individuals live in community. One thing we can be sure of is we don't know what lies ahead.It's important that we keep our minds and hearts open as we progress through the years. As for B's've gotta admit, she's a wise woman!