Avoiding Loneliness


by John C. Westervelt


     My year-younger sister, Harriette, and my year-older brother, Wallace, have always been my best friends.  In our youth group at Wesley Methodist Church in Oklahoma City in the 1940s, we shared the same friends.

     As young married couples, we gathered with our seven children at our mother’s house in Oklahoma City on Christmas Eve to spend the night.

     When our children were college age, Harriette and Lloyd, Wallace and Barbara, and Nelda and I enjoyed the Colorado Mountains viewed from a rustic cabin.  A few years later, Harriette became a young widow, when cancer took the life of her husband Lloyd.

My daughter Mary Kim always had a special affection for her Aunt Harriette.  After a couple of years for Harriette’s grieving to stabilize, Mary Kim asked if Nelda and I would take Harriette and her to New York and Washington D.C.; and we did.

We saw four plays in three days in New York.  With cabs scarce when the theaters let out, we walked the mile to our hotel across from the south end of Central Park.  On Monday morning, we boarded the Amtrak at Grand Central Station for Washington D.C.

From our hotel just across the Potomac, we rode the Underground each day for a week to see the sites I had read about in school.  On the last night together, the three women voted to go to London for our next adventure.  These plans were thwarted by the untimely death of Nelda two years later.

Another year passed, and Mary Kim said, “Dad, it’s time to take Aunt Harriette to London.”  An engineer in my office from London suggested I make reservations for the dormitory at Imperial College in central London.  Our small single rooms were clustered about a shared shower and toilet.  The nearby Underground gave us passage to historical sites.

Boarding the Underground, I watched attractive women with their hair blown, if not by wind on the street, then by the turbulence of the oncoming subway.  While I stood at the right, they bounced down the escalator on the left with almost a dance step as they hurried to catch their subway.

Mary Kim continued as Harriette’s roommate for family trips with Wallace and Barbara and me to western Canada, northern England and Scotland, and the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

Some years later, Harriette and I joined the Wesley Eight for new travel adventures.  On the first of these trips, Harriette and I were joined by Wallace and Barbara and a couple from Great Bend, Kansas to spend a week with a couple in Vermont.  Except for two wives, all of these had attended our youth group at Wesley.

It was during the following week in New Hampshire that Harriette agreed I could share her room with a shower because my room had none.  I would get ready early and then leave the room to Harriette for an hour, while I wrote in my journal.  This room-sharing arrangement worked well for the next five Septembers with the Wesley Eight in Kansas; Chautauqua, NY; Texas Hill Country; Grand Canyon; and Branson, Missouri.

So now you see how Harriette and I avoided loneliness by sharing our lives with family and friends.


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