Dear Annie: I am a single parent. My youngest left for college last fall, and I did OK handling the changes in my home and heart. I took on a few redecorating projects, attended numerous local events and accepted another job to help with tuitions and to get out of the house. But I still find myself lonely.

I have few friends. When I go out, it’s usually by myself. I’m fine with that, but having another person to talk to does make the time go by in a more pleasant way. I’ve called former mom friends for lunch or conversation, but no one returns my calls, everyone is busy or our calendars just don’t mesh.

Solitude is nice every once in a while, but it’s emotionally draining day in and day out. The new school year is fast approaching, and my kids will be leaving again. How does someone my age make friends and get past this hurdle in life? — Young Empty Nester

Dear Empty Nester: Attending an occasional local event is fine, but it doesn’t allow enough time to build friendships. You need to find group activities that you enjoy on a regular basis. Do you like to sing? Join a choir. Do you like to exercise? Take a gym class, or join a bike-riding group. Work for a political candidate. Do some charity work, volunteer at a hospital, get involved in community theater. Decide what interests you, and then look for organizations that allow you to be part of an ongoing activity. Try meetup.com to find groups in your area.

Dear Annie: This may not be your department, but I don’t know who else to ask. When I call to make a doctor’s appointment, the person on the other end asks why I want to see the doctor. I am not comfortable telling this person.

When I get there, the nurse asks why I wish to see the doctor, as if I never called. Then, the doctor comes in saying, “So, what’s going on?” and we start all over.

This brings me back to the appointment maker. Why are these people expecting the most personal information in my life just because they answer the phone saying, “Hi, I’m Kelly”? Is this information actually the least bit helpful to the doctor? — S.

Dear S.: The person who answers the phone and makes the appointment needs to know what the problem is in order to allot sufficient time on the doctor’s schedule. A routine checkup, for example, takes more time than a blood test. Once you get into the doctor’s office, the nurse may want to be sure you have the same complaint and there are no additional problems.

The doctor, however, should have your information at hand. We suspect asking again is simply the doctor’s way of opening the conversation.

To all our Muslim readers: Happy Eid.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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