A GRADUAL CONGREGATION – Marilyn Armstrong

It turns out, there are a lot of variations of congregate meaning “to get together, join together, group together, party hearty.”

With some fish, it also means collaboration to make baby fish. Or is that conjugation?

But there is no word which means “someone who congregates.” No congregator. Congregationalist? Congregationistic? Congruent?

 Way back when, in the days when I had energy, enthusiasm, and I liked most people, I was much more enthusiastic about “getting together.” I was considered sociable and I almost agreed with that.

I was never quite as sociable many thought. I was a party “edge person.” I would look for whoever was standing along at the edges of a party and engage them in conversation. I never like big groups of people in one place because you couldn’t have a conversation with anyone when everyone was trying to talk.

I made exceptions when I gave the party because if it was my party, I didn’t expect to engage in conversation. Party giving was more about flitting about and making sure everyone else was having a good time. I gave a few good parties through the decades (generations?), but mostly, I preferred having a friend or two or three — and a great conversation about everything.

Remember conversations that lasted until dawn? We covered philosophy, government, the meaning of life. Travel to the stars, reincarnation and the best books we’d read lately. No one was bored or left out.

Later, people got old. Died. Drifted into a world of their own, moved to senior housing “somewhere near their kids” which was always hundreds of miles from us. Others simply drifted.

What we had previously held in common — work — it was no longer relevant after we all had stopped working.

Those of us with functional marriages who really liked our partners have been lucky. Singleness is fine when you are active enough to travel and gadabout, but these days, it’s an abiding joy to have a partner whose hand you can hold while you watch old movies, cuddled by dogs with cold noses.

We’ve been talking lately about how few friends we have remaining. This isn’t unusual at our age. People leave and don’t come back. Many others don’t like traveling. Or driving any distance. More don’t like going to places with which they are unfamiliar. Everyone like their own bed.

If you have pets, it gets increasingly difficult to find someone to take care of them, especially as your pets get old, too.

We still have friends. They are old friends. Friends forever. Who knew the people we knew and share memories of the times through which we’ve lived. Have common political and philosophical beliefs — and hopefully enjoy the same movies.

So let us congregate to our greater enjoyment! Or try, anyhow.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

21 thoughts on “A GRADUAL CONGREGATION – Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. I remember when I was a LOT younger, my mother commented that “You know you’re getting old when your friends start to die.” I thought that was the most depressing thing I’d ever heard … and it is. Friends are dying. A lot of them are gone and more are well on their way. With all the stuff I’ve gone through, I’m still here, which is rather amazing, frankly. But the circle draws in tighter and tighter each year and you know it isn’t going to expand. And that is not cheerful at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Mr. Swiss will be 80 in October, I am 72 and our friends are less and less. It is sad to read the obits in the newspaper because there are too many familiar names. Neighbors are no longer the same for this reason. Suddenly we have families here with children, which I like, but it is a little depressing no longer to see the old familiar faces

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    1. Garry checks the obits to make sure he isn’t ON them. He’ll be 77 in April and I’ll be 72 next month, so we’re right in that ballpark with you. Garry’s is surprisingly good shape, but he is slowing down a lot these days. It’s fortunate we have computers so at least we CAN keep in touch, isn’t it?

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      1. Mr. Swiss is not longer in such good shape. He manages OK, but his age has caught up with him. He walks with a stoop due to his back problem and mainly with his stick. He also has a wheelchair at home. He no longer drives the car and does not really go anywhere, except with me if he wants to go shopping for a change, or has a doctor appointment. He has also slowed down quite a lot, but still manages to do a computer hop now and again. We have both changed a lot.

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  2. I have one friend from childhood who I keep in touch with regularly although as we live in different states we don’t meet often. I have friends locally but if I move away from here I expect that gradually we’ll lose touch. They are all older than me and gradually I expect health issues and not seeing them often will take its toll.

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  3. I LOVE that last photo of the four happy and cheerful faces….. I have yet another theory to diminuishing friendships and -gatherings. It applies to me personally.
    I used to be a crowd pleaser; loved to be in the middle of a gathering, being asked my advice, being the center of laughter, fun, dance and discussion.
    With taking up years and ageing more or less happily, I realised how vain and unnecessary many of these so called friends were becoming in my life. My at the time very best ever girl friend ‚unliked‘ me out of thinly disguised jealousy for my then ‚new‘, young, attractive, intelligent man….. although she had landed the son of one of the five richest families of our city. I still am in regular contact with many, I phone with them, talk to them, but I am also aware that if I die tomorrow the pain and sorrow will probably stop after 4 to 6 months after (at the latest). We are all becoming ‚replacable‘ goods and I for one don‘t have ‚time‘ any longer for ‚friends surfing on the surface‘ – I treasure the very few REAL friends where we can unload, discuss and openly exchange…. I also find it terribly sad that we both, HH and I, have no longer a REAL TRUE BEST friend, neither of us. The ONE person you can share EVERTHING with, confide everything, warts and all, without restraint, without a worry that your ‚news‘ will go out, nobody to get true advice, totally honest opinions…. We seem to live in a kind of sad world.
    NOW I wonder why I‘m so positive, so open and joyful….. blimey – thanks Marlyn for nothing!

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  4. Congregant: (Noun) One who joins in a congregation.

    You’re welcome! 🙂

    I lost all my friends at age 11 when my parents migrated to the other side of the planet.

    I made new ones at school for 7 years and then lost most of them when i went to Uni.

    I have lived in the one city for the best part of 50 years now – not a single one of my friends i made here has, not even the ex.

    My best friend of 25 years moved to Europe for good last year.

    Congregating isn’t what it used to be.

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    1. No one ever visits us either. It took our friend Ben 30 years to convince his sisters (all but one) to visit. I’ve given up trying. Garry’s brothers seem to think we live on another planet.

      I lost a lot of friends when I went to Israel for a decade because everyone had changed a lot when I got back. Made NEW friends here in Massachusetts, but when Garry stopped working most of that sort of drifted away. So year … it ain’t what it was. And I suppose never will be.

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      1. I think part of it is the modern changing world we live in – even if we’d rather not.

        Was it really better 50 years ago or is it our minds doing what it usually does?

        I’ve been finding out quite a bit about the mind lately – i hope to share some in the not-too-distant future. 😉

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    1. We all are. Apparently, this is the piece of aging no one ever talked about. I thought about it only because my mother mentioned it. Then I read George Burns’ autobiography and he talked about how much he still misses Gracie and his other friends. By the time he died, he was the ONLY one left. It was chilling. He said, at one point, he would give anything in this world to hear the sound of the laughter of his best friend, Jack Benny, just one more time.

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