Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Putting the Cart Before the Horse



This post is called putting the horse before the cart because that’s exactly what I did this week. I ordered the folding wagon to the right to use at the place I want to move to that isn’t built yet to haul the dog and groceries to and from the underground parking garage. It was my way of celebrating that my application got accepted into the CCC (continuing care complex) and by the time you read this I will have paid my first 10% to hold the unit. They’re breaking ground in the fall and have pushed the move-in date up from September to March 2020. I’m having a mini panic attack over that change. I’ve got a LOT to downsize!

After much hand wringing and changing my mind back and forth between the three available first floor, one bedroom units, I chose the unit that's the closest to the entrance to the ‘hub’---two restaurants, an exercise room, art studio, mail room, meeting room and the concierge---a 200 foot walk from my front door on a heated sidewalk for winter safety. The other two units were ideal for getting to the wooded trail (a male dog's idea of heaven) to walk the dog but were a block away from the underground parking. The unit I ‘bought’ is twenty steps away from an elevator going down to the parking garage. The deciding factor for picking that unit was the fact that I’ll probably out live the dog and as I age being closer to parking and the hub will be a distinct advantage. The dog will just have to suck it up and adjust to more things to bark at (being near the hub) or he’ll find himself in an anti-barking collar that sprays citronella in his face when he does. But I told Levi about the lake and all the nice trees he’ll be able to meet-and-greet so I think we have a bargain.  

Before I handed over the $20,575 check I asked if the financial people really, REALLY went over the numbers super-thoroughly enough to know that I won’t run out of money and will be eating dog food down the road.  She said they’ve got all kinds of graphs and charts and cross-checked everything that predicts all the aspects of my future. She said if/when I go into their nursing home $50,000 of my $205,000 entrance fee with go back into my checking account to help pay anything that isn’t covered by Medicare and Blue-Cross, and if that runs out they’d cover 100% of everything for the rest of my life, any balance left after I die goes to my heirs. At my age and health their graphs and charts estimate I’ll live in this independent unit for 8 years, in assisted living for two months and one month in skilled nursing. I’ve always worried that CCC places like this have a ‘hit-man’ on speed dial who smothers you in your sleep if you start costing them too much, but I guess I can postpone that end-of-life fear for 7-8 years. Besides, I think I’m going to fool their graphs and charts because this week, with all the excitement and increasing Levi’s walks, I’ve started losing weight again. Walking Levi more frequently than he gets now, after I move in, will be good for my health.

Plotting my next chapter isn’t the only thing I’ve been doing. I’ve managed to go to a movie at the senior hall about the Holocaust---walked out 15 minutes later when I discovered it was all in subtitles---and I went to book club. I had planned on dropping out that day, but I enjoyed the discussion so much I didn't. I still want to because I don't need to be reading fiction when I’ve got over 60 years of diaries to finally let go of plus slides, photos and other personal things that need downsizing. 

Destroying personal papers is a pain but thanks to another blogger (The Awkward Widow) I learned about the existence of wide rolling inkers to use on junk mail to block out addresses in one pass. It works so much faster than shredding papers. Also, shredded papers can’t be recycled so that roller is a win-win. I had an inch high stack of round-robin letters from the ‘90s and all I did before throwing them out was to run the roller right down the middle of each page. Slick and quick. And I’m proud to announce that I only kept two out of all those letters. One was about a surprise party that my husband planned for my 50th birthday. And the other was about my brother and I going to court to have my dad declared mentally incompetent. In case you’re confused about how I got all those letters that I wrote to other people, that’s how round-robins work. You get an envelope with six letters and you take your old letter out of the batch, add your new one and then send them all to the next person on the round-robin mailing list. 

I also spent time using a hammer on 40+ floppy disks. Why did I keep them long after I had a computer that could read them? And why did I find it necessary to smash them before taking them to media recycling? Over the coming months I’ll probably bore everyone with posts about downsizing. But here’s the cliffhanger...maybe I’ll turn into my nemesis Marie Kondo. ©

“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”
Paulo Coelho

42 comments:

  1. Congratulations! Very happy for you, and think you've made the right decision choosing the ground floor unit, keeping in mind your future personal needs.

    Busy couple of months ahead for you! But happy and exciting too!! ~ Libby



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    1. Thank you, even if I didn't have a dog I'd want the ground floor for first safety. Although they've sold the most units on the third floors. Views will be great I'm sure but they sat there will be back up generators for essential things during outages, I'd still have trouble trusting an elevator powered by generations.

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  2. Congratulations. It really does sound good. And now you can get to the downsizing without procrastinating!
    Did you actually get to talk to anyone who is a resident while you were visiting?
    You’ve got an interesting spelling error in the post...graft instead of graph!

    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Thanks. I think I got rid of all the "graft".

      I didn't really get to talk to anyone other than two people walking their giant dogs and while we were touring in a golf cart another man came up to complaint that the trash pick up company was late. But at book club when I mention the name of the places several people knew people living in the old part and they raved about. This company has places all over town and I haven't found anyone yet who has a bad word to say about it. I will meet others who are moving into the new section along with me on Wednesday...my first gathering.

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  3. Congratulations! Sounds like a lovely place to move and great incentive to have a deadline for downsizing.

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  4. Scary and exciting all at the same time. I hate the new deadline. I thought the old one was do-able, not sure about this one. I'll call the downsizing specialize next week.

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  5. Congratulations Jean & Levi. He'll enjoy riding that folding wagon. Well it seems that you have thought about everything my friend. Mary Lou & I have decided to move also. We are fixing all the things that have to be fixed. I've spoken with a realtor, a friend. I taught his children and thank God his children loved me so he told me that he'll make me cheaper deal selling my house. He now has to also find use a new place to live. That will be the problem. Mary Lou will be the one to find us a new place. I really don't care where we live.
    I guess you and I now moving into a new life. I guess we've reached a new life. Well done. See ya Jean

    Cruisin Paul

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  6. Congratulations back at you. It's a hard decision to know when the timing is right. Mary Lou will do well picking out your new life style. I will, at least, be able to meet my future neighbors before I'm locked in with no refunds. So Next Wednesday is a good test for me when I get to meet some of them.

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  7. I'm heartened to hear of people like you, Jean, who are proactive about decision making with aging. My mom, at 86 yrs, just moved into a lodge setting (private room with communal dining and activity area) somewhat reluctantly but necessary with her diminishing ability to carry on with activities of daily living at home. I'm sure her dementia didn't contribute to rational decision making. One of the frequent comments that I've heard from staff and residents alike is that people wait too long to make the move; they need to move to this kind of setting while they can still enjoy it.

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    1. In my heart I know the timing is right, that I've made the right decision. This way I get to decide what happens to my stuff---not burden anyone else down the road. And, like you said, I will have time to enjoy the community I'll be moving to. But my head still says I'm going to live forever and why rush?

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  8. I tend to be like your head is and say I'm perfectly happy where I am now (but I have downsized twice I suppose and I am NOT a keeper, so I can do whatever). I think you will be happy you got a downsizing specialist to help you. You dont want to be like my friend whose downsized but has multiple storage units.

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    1. I did the storage unit the last time we moved and never again. I would have been better off to let it all go in the auction, but my husband had just had his massive stroke and he wasn't willing to acknowledge---yet---that his live was over as he had known it.

      Downsizing is going to require another auction. I just hope the downsizing lady has a venue to to that and not here. I have too much too leave it to the last month or two....most of it is tiny stuff but it adds up in the space it takes up.

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  9. They sure know how to help people acclimate to their new BIG decisions! They they will be glad to have such an active participant in their community.

    Wish I were there to help you! At least moral support!!

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    1. I'm kind of at that scared straight stage of not knowing where to start aside from e-Baying. I wish they hadn't moved the move-in date up but I'm hoping that will change again if they get delays. I just got an offer from my niece if I have to move out of here to make the timing work out I can use her cottage for a month or two. That's a big back up plan.

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  10. So glad you were able to get reviews from people who have lived there. You have much to do yet but that will make the time go quicker. Think you and Levi will love the new digs and who wouldn't love heated sidewalks in winter?

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    1. So much will change it's mind boggling.

      Yes, I'll sure appreciate those heated sidewalks since I'll have to walk Levi all the time and they will have a generator for power outages that will keep the refrigerator going and on plug in the bedroom.

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  11. Congratulations! What a big decision to make, and what a lot of work to down-size. Please do write about the process as it progresses. "Over the coming months I’ll probably bore everyone with posts about downsizing." No way! You will be doing us all a favor.

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    1. Oh good, I shouldn't be the only one crying over the process. Well, not crying over letting go---I'm ready. I've be crying over getting it done in time.

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  12. That's great news, Jean! I'm happy for you.

    Deb

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    1. It's quite a leap of faith to put down all that money on a place you can't see. But I'm determined I will make it work.

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  13. Have never heard of round robin letters. Did not know about wide ink rollers (thanks!) And why isn't shredded paper recyclable???? Also, CONGRATULATIONS on deciding on a new place to live. What a big step, but it sounds perfect for you . All that research and shopping around paid off. Excited for you.

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    1. I used to be in 5-7 round robins and they went on for years.

      Shredded paper is too small for the recycle machines to pick up and they cause trouble with the machines.

      I hope it works out. I'll have to learn all new places to shop in a neighborhood I don't really know. But there will be time to worry about that stuff after I move. In the meantime there is Amazon.

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  14. Plotting my next move...I love it.
    Coffee is on

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    1. I've got to get it together soon and make a game plan because my head is all over the place. :)

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  15. Your plans to move sound like they are working well for you and I think you are choosing the right apartment after considering all the options. I am sure your dog will be fine and enjoy the new walking arrangements.

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    1. Me too but it was a hard choice because the views were better in the one of the units I didn't pick. I'm going to miss seeing pretty landscaping out my windows.

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    2. Great news. I have find downsizing to be mentally and physically fatiguing. If you find yourself overwhelmed just realize it is normal, give yourself a little rest, if needed, and you will be able to hit it again.

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    3. It's so hard to know where to start---what will sell at an estate sale and what to donate. I hope the downsizing lady can get me on her schedule soon.

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  16. Congratulations!! I'm so excited for you and Levi. I'm confident you'll be able to "right size" to your new place, it's just going to be a lot of work and time unfortunately. Cheers!

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    1. It sure is! I've got a basement, 3 stall garage and 1,500 ft of house to downsize to around 1,000.

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    2. Sounds like you’re right on target and congrats on your action and is right for you. Almost have me thinking maybe I should reconsider moving into a CCC place here, one of several that I know well, or one near the coast which my friends have encouraged me to do, nearer them. Hard to think about since kids still in Midwest and east coast so visits won’t be real frequent. Also, I may have waited until it’s too late, as the saying goes, so we’ll see. Still think of staying in house, gradually adding more help as needed. Can consider live-in assist but getting trusted competent one could be a challenge as I found with my mother. Probably need to get real specific and look hard at the numbers.

      I grew up with round robin letter family members had. Due to my mothers vision issues beginning when I was a teen I read them to her and became involved with some family I’d never met in ways I might not have otherwise. Would enjoy them now with those who still aren’t comfortable with digital, but not enough still living I think.

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    3. I think blogging is a lot like round-robin letters. You write one post and many read it.

      I watched my sister-in-law and niece get daily help in the house for many years---her daughter had MS and couldn't get in or out of her wheelchair by herself, totally needed help in the shower and mother was too elderly to help. Once in a while they'd get a good home health care worker but the turnover in personal is awful, even changing agencies didn't help and a few less than honest and down right scary. I stopped over a couple of times a week and saw it with my own eyes. Not for me.

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    4. I went through that process with my Mom years ago, so know how challenging it can be to find good people, but when you do can really be very good.

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    5. It helped that my S-I-L had another daughter who could oversea the revolting in-house caregivers but I don't have anyone who could do that for me and at some point I'd be at the mercy of a stranger to do it.

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  17. Oh wow! Another adventure for you! You will embrace this with gusto as you have all the other changes and challenges in your life. This one is all Your Choice, however, really, so it must feel pretty good. Bravo!

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    1. I've feel 100% great about the challenge if they hadn't moved up the move-in day. But they could get delays once they start into, so I'm trying not to freak out about it.

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  18. Congratulations! I love the fact that you are so excited about this move. I think I'll feel that way, too, when I take the plunge. I wouldn't worry too much about the March move-in date; I've never met a construction project that was completed on time.

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    1. I hope you are right. It's such a leap of faith when you can't see what your are buying in. BUT the origination has a stellar and so does the construction company that is doing the work.

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  19. It's not like you can't use your little cart before, if you want! A celebration present! It sounds like the unit you chose is one I would pick, too.

    I know what you mean about shredding. It's a pain. I have a lot to do too so thanks for the tip on the ink thing.

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  20. I probably will put the cart to use before the move, if only to get the dog used to sitting in it.

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  21. Before we even knew we were going to retire and downsize in 2010, I had started a 365 declutter, an item a day. I've gotten rid of most papers, scanned all the photos. And now that we are downsized and living in a condo (so we can travel) I continually try to get rid of stuff. My problem now is a lot of collectibles from travelling that no one is going to want. I should give eBay a try.

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    1. There are other online sites, too, but I've been on e-Bay for nearly two decades and I don't want to learn the ropes of the other places. Some people say Esty is better and easier now.

      The idea of scanning photos must have been a big job! I dread that project, if I take in on. I do want to have a photo frame that does a slide show but I might just have that done by a service.

      The one item of day really does add up, doesn't it. I've usually do 10 e-Bay listings a week but may step that up to 15.

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