Ms. Mayberry explains, “I’ve lived alone since my husband died in 2002. Still, I don’t feel isolated. Volunteer activities at my church usually keep me busy.” Like most people, Ms. Mayberry complies with the official ‘stay-at-home’ request during the pandemic. She says, “I’m not worried but concerned because there is so much that we don’t know. Since the pandemic, I shop for groceries once a week. I use to walk to the store. But I stopped after I was approached by a man saying unpleasant things.”
Women with whom she has shared decades of friendship sit at her dining room table discussing the value of their connections with her. Beverly King Sampson said, “Ceola will go above and beyond for you. She is a pleasant, energetic, wonderful person. We don’t visit a lot, but we talk. Whenever one needs the other, we are there. I don’t have a problem with loneliness. I always have something to do.”
Mayberry’s former beautician, Judy Brox, whose husband died in 2018, said, “I’m not used to being alone. I try to avoid loneliness by getting on the phone and talking with my former customers and friends. It’s still tough sometimes.”
Kara Lavelle stays busy with her husband, daughter, and babysitting a grandchild. She says, “I work for the National Association of Black Accountants mentoring students. I miss the people that I would normally see. I love being in Ceola’s presence. She’s going to do something to make me laugh. I’ve learned a lot from just being around her.”
I was 37 years old before I got married. My husband, Arthur Mayberry, was a recruiter at Marquette University, and an avid golfer. So, after he retired, we spent winters in Florida. He was a wonderful man. When he died, for the first time, I understood the concept of dying from heartache. It was just an empty feeling to come home and know that he wasn’t coming. I’m just so thankful that I’m not a bitter old woman.”
Tips for making more social connections and not being lonely—Join a group that focuses on one of your interests; be a source of encouragement to others; volunteer – many organizations need help; or reach out to family and friends.