I am Exhibit A in why widows shouldn’t make any big decisions in their first year of widowhood…like selling a house and moving. Even before Don’s funeral a little over a year ago I was telling everyone I would put the house up for sale this coming spring and buy a condo on the other end of town. Spring is coming and I no longer feel the need to flee. Quite the opposite, I feel the pull to stay close to the dog park, the nature trails, my favorite grocery store, the post office, my antique booth, and a little tourist town I’ve grown to love. The other end of town also doesn’t have an active senior center. I’ve been following their newsletter online and from what I’m seeing they might as well close the doors. I lived on the other end of town all but thirteen years of my life. I could do it again---pretend I’m not a “flaming liberal” and blend in with the ultra-conservatives down there---but do the pros outweigh the cons of doing so? The biggest draw to moving to that end of town is it would cut a half hour off the hour and a half drive it takes to see my family. They all live in the country, near tiny towns that I love, but I’m a big city kid so moving to one of those towns isn’t an option. Yet.
What I’ve almost decided is that if I get to the point where I actually need my family for ‘old person support’ then I’d probably be at the point where I ought to be living in an assisted living facility. At that point, it would be more practical to move to one of the places within minutes of my nieces. But what to do in the meantime---hopefully a decade---that is the million dollar question. I’d like to downsize. The house is too big for one person but it’s a universal design house which makes aging in place the best fit you can get. Houses like this are few and far between and the only condos I’ve found built universal design are in a baby boomer community---you guessed it---on the other end of town. I’ve been following their newsletter, too, and they don’t do much in the way of organizing social outings, lectures, classes, day trips and clubs like the senior hall a mile away from where I’m living now does. I couldn't keep going to this one, if I move out of the township.
I love watching the HGTV program House Hunters International. I am fascinated at how easily people make up their minds to pull up roots here in the states and move half way around the world. They often move to places where they don’t know the language or have any human ties living in the country of their choice. How do they do that? I know the world is getting smaller with all the communication devices available today, but try hugging your iPad when you want to cry on someone’s shoulder in the middle of a life-crisis. Do some people make friends so easily that they don’t see it as a problem not to have a circle of support closer than a trans-Atlantic ride on an airplane? Do I place too much importance on having a circle that in reality I’ve rarely ever needed? I suspect the answer to both those questions is “yes.”
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is an age related thing that I don’t want to live more than one or two area codes away from family. But I don’t think so. Unlike the people on House Hunters International, the most exotic place I’ve ever fantasized living is on an Amish farm under the Federal Witness Protection Program where back up would only be a cell call away. Or on Nantucket Island, sharing a cottage with an agent assigned to my case who, coincidentally, thinks my novice paintings are masterpieces.
Nope, my lack of adventure isn’t age related, besides I can go anywhere in my head and be back home in time for dinner. I’m just a person whose has always lived with a backup plan. The only trouble is there is no plan B for dying. We’re all going to do it someday and I’d much prefer that I don’t do it on the streets of Calcutta where someone would steal the ID and money off my corpse and I’d get cremated in mass with other anonymous and penniless people. Is that any way for a woman eligible to join the Daughters of the American Revolution to die? Hell, no! I’m going to stay at home and hope someone finds my body before the dog gets too hungry. My, am I in a morbid mood today or what!
Bottom line: I feel a widow’s pressure to move to a small house and/or redecorate something. Build a new nest. But the pressure is coming from within, I can afford to age in place if that is the path I decide to walk---I wasn’t sure of that a year ago. But if I stay will I be able to push past these feelings of being unsettled and restless? Whatever I decide about moving out and moving on I’m so glad I was paying attention in Widowhood 101 class the day they covered to topic of not making major decisions in the first year. ©
A hard copy book documenting my firs year of widowhood can be previewed and ordered here.
P.S. To the history buffs out there who might be wondering what my connection with the American Revolution is, it's Mercy Warren Otis.