Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Meeting - The First of Four

 


Yesterday was a Red Letter Day in the life of this blogger. I went to the first of four future residences meetings to get orientated on the move to the continuum care campus. The other meetings will come once a month from now on with topics like covering the Handbook of Rules & Safety...things like where to go for tornado warnings, in case of fire, using our panic buttons, etc. At one meeting we’ll learning how to active the underground parking door, get into the buildings and buzzing our guests in, get maintenance. Another meeting will cover tech issues and how to use the trash compactor, the intercom, run appliances, how to get IT to fix any TV, phone or WiFi issues.

They have their BIG inspection for occupancy certification coming up starting mid-June and until every single one of the 52 units plus the restaurants and public areas all passes that inspection no one gets to move into the buildings. City inspectors have been following construction monthly every step of the way and the construction company doesn’t expect that certification process to be anything but routine, but it's time consuming and thorough. They started scheduling move-ins appointments and mine is October 5th at 8-12:00. Note: no one can actually move in until October 4th. That has to do with the elevators having to pass a different-from-the-certification test first but they've built a lot of time into their schedule in case they have bugs to work out. Not sure when landscaping happens. 

The move-in calendar is going to be a logistical, complicated process fit for a military commander to manage 52 of us spread out over October. We’ll get a four hour window of time to use the elevator all to ourselves and two people will be moving into each of the two buildings at the same time. Being in the first wave of those who move in is going to be creepy that first night, sleeping in a huge buildings with just eight occupied units. And noisy for the first few weeks. If all doesn't go according to plans I can push my move-in appointment back but I would hate that.

Because of social distancing we sat with only two of us at a table for this meeting but when they asked for a show of hands on who has been vaccinated, every single person in the room raised their hand. The masks came off and the wine and cocktails flowed. I didn’t have a drink because I have enough trouble concentrating when I drive so I’ll wait until after I move in before getting into social drinking. Haven’t done that since I lost my designated drive to my husband’s stroke in 2001. I’ve probably turn into a lush which is okay, you’d like drunk me. I get really silly and how much trouble can I get into when I'll just have to walk the distance of a half a city block to get back home? As always with this group the food was both pretty and delicious. The chef in my future home is going to be one of my favorite people on the campus.

My table mate turned out to be a woman I hadn’t met before and we will be living in the same building, on the same floor. We clicked right off the bat and our conservation was organic and easy. She’s a widow, was a teacher, loves to read, she and her husband never had kids (like Don and me). And she’s moving into the continuum care campus for the same reasons I am: 1) to make it easier on our nieces who are named as our powers of attorney, and 2) to make our own decisions, now while we still can, about where we'll live should we ever need more oversight, skilled nursing, a memory care unit or Hospice…which are all on this non-profit campus and part of the CC promise we’re buying into.

Things we learned at this first meeting: We’ll have two WiFi accesses. One will be just for our personal space with 30 Mbps (most homes have 29) and the other one will be for all the public spaces and for our guests to use with 10 Mbps. We’ll get 62 channels of free TV. With both the TV and WiFi we can upgrade if we want to pay a monthly fee. We’re getting a free 3’ x 3’ “cage storage” space plus a locking storage unit at the end of our parking space. We can get a landline for a fee if we want, but we won’t be able to keep our existing phone numbers. And the director of the CCC is going to ask the bank that is keeping all our deposits in escrow if they’d do bridge loans for those of us who might need or want them. That would simplify things greatly! Most of us seem to be in the same catch-22 of needing to sell and close on our houses to finish paying off the new unit and we can’t move in until we’ve made that final payment.

June is going to be a busy month of getting my house ready to list. Already I’ve had an electrician come out to swap out a light fixture that decided it didn’t want to work anymore. Power washing the siding so I can get the windows washed inside and out is scheduled as is vacuuming down the basement. The biggest job left is dismantling my e-Bay shipping area in the garage, selling off shelving out there and maybe move some furniture out there to sell on Facebook Marketplace. I also have to get my computer wardrobe out of my kitchen---not looking forward to that. Getting the carpets professional cleaning will come near the end of June. The photo shoot of my house will take place the first week in July. Things are moving right along.

The photo at the top is the artist's rendering of the lake side of the complex. I'm on the opposite, cheap side of the building without the great lake view and without the extra 208 or 344 square footage that would have cost me an additional $250+ a month and an extra $15,000+ to buy into the campus. When I picked out my unit my thought process was that not having a great view will force me to spend more time in the public areas or outside walking. $250+ a month is a good chunk of change and by saving that I won't have to worry as much about my budget. It was a trade off and I'm still not sure I made the right decision but I made it all by myself without asking for an opinion from anyone else. Whether it turns out to be the right or wrong decision, I wanted to own it, not blame anyone else if I come to regret not having a lake view. I did the same thing when I put the first deposit down. I didn't tell a soul that I was thinking about buying into the campus until after it was a done deal. Anyone else like that? When I make major, life changing decisions I want to be sure my voice is the only one I hear.  ©

P.S. Writing this made me realize when we get to pick out our parking units I might be able to score one with a window facing the lake. I'm in the low 20s in the picking order. That would tickle my funny bone to be able to brag about my lake view. I could even put a chair down there in my underground parking space just to add to the humor. 

37 comments:

  1. I'm glad your Voice was what you listened to, it can get mighty Noisy when everyone weighs in on big decisions. Like you, I don't make big decisions by Committee either, I Own every big decision I've ever made. I think Saving the $$$ every Month you can use it to go see more Views than you'll probably have sufficient time for. I recall Pueblo Boheme' had The View... and of coarse it was Sublime... but at the end of the Day, this Property has so much MORE and enjoying all of that is probably more time spent than I'd ever have just sat gazing at The View anyway in actuality. Even the most spectacular Views become somewhat taken for Granted after the Novelty wears off some. I'm so Excited for you as it edges ever closer to your Move-In and the Selling of the last Chapter of your Life. It's hard, you'll have a wide range of Emotion hit you like Tsunami Waves at times Jean... so much of our Essence is in our Past, our Memories, so even the Positives of going to the next Chapter Happily, isn't ever Simplistic. But it's going to be so Exciting and you're making great Choices my Friend.

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    1. That house with the view you were looking at was spectacular. I would have had a hard time passing that one up but you choose well because you would have been so isolated up there and now you have great neighbors and that wonderful RV garage that suits your style of living so much better.

      But you are right about all the emotions I'm going through. It almost feels like PMS. LOL

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    2. They never could Sell that spectacular Home with their Clouded Title Issues and the Senile Mother's Name on the Note. With a feuding Family it muddied the Waters for that Home and the Historic one in Mesa... tho' the Historic has a Young Family living in it now with Small Children and have kinda let it go to shit... a shame, but they're probably Grifting Relatives of the original Owner and will destroy the Value the Gt-Granddaughter put into the Restoration if they abuse it. The area wasn't great to begin with, even tho' that Home was. I looked up Chain of Title on that one and it never was Sold, which led me to think that complaining 'Uncle' that came out of the Woodwork and blocked our Sale Closing on it, must now be the one in there?

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    3. What a shame! That spectacular house should be an example to all of us to have our legal ducks in order long before we get elderly when whatever we do can get challenged by greedy relatives. Money brings out the worse in some people.

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  2. Looks perfect! What a nice place to eventually go home to. You’re going to be very happy there.

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    1. I think so, once I get settled in and learn my way around for driving. The traffic in that area is a little intimidating compared to where I'm at now. Eventually, if I can't drive anymore the concierge service will hook us up with Uber rides.

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  3. So glad you found a like person to share your building with. Good neighbors are vital. Don't envy you at all the stress you have ahead but you seem to have it all parceled out in manageable chunks.
    The lake view parking lot sounds like a winner.

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    1. When I was first thinking about picking a parking space I thought it would be a bummer to get one with a window because then you'd have to get a smaller storage unit, but then they decided it would look better if they provided them and they were all uniform in size. The size they picked is pretty small, plenty of along side the window. Then it hit me that a window with a great view is pretty cool to drive up to. Fingers crossed.

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  4. What an interesting post. After reading it, I realized a couple of things. One is that I envy your ability to afford such a place; it sounds like one of the best I've come across, not only in terms of the amenities it will provide but also in terms of a responsible management. The other thing that came to mind is that our senses of humor run along some of the same lines. You might have your 'lake view,' and I have a 'place in the country' -- a cemetery plot that has its own story attached. I intend to tell that one some day, but I've been waiting to get some photos, first. It's some distance away.

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    1. Trust me, this place is not the most expensive continuum care place in town. I toured 4-5-6 (?) of them in the 3 years before finding this place under construction. I toured one that was double the cost to buy in and to live there monthly. I called it Stepford for Old People cause the people there reminded me of robotic Stepford Wives. One place was called 'Green Acres' and I wouldn't live there just because I hated the name. It's because this place is non-profit that makes all the difference. They've got another campus that's been around for 109 years so they have a track record that I researched.

      I made them go over my finances a couple of times because I didn't believe I'd qualify. But they say I won't run out of money to live there and if I do they can't kick me out. My husband and worked a lot all our lives and have no kids to leave money to, but it's still going to seem strange after a life time of saving money, to start see it draining out.

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    2. P>S. I can't wait to read your "place in the country" story when you tell it.

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  5. You sound rather excited about having reached this stage in the process and I'm glad! The time will fly by now that the final steps are in motion. So glad you met someone you like and relate to easily.

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    1. I have met quite a few people I like but the ones on my floor in my building I suspect will be the important ones to cultivate friendships with. Each building will have a small community room on each floor and I'm kind of thinking maybe we could start something like a Monday Night Chit-Chat hour or game night or something to get us to know one another better.

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  6. Sounds like a great meeting--you met a friend! And I like your thought process for not getting a place with a view of the lake; that way you make the effort to GO TO the lake to see it, or go places within the complex for the view, socializing with the other residents.

    This is what your money should be for, providing you with a lovely home in your later years, one that you choose and enjoy. One that gives you security and comfort. Sounds like a pretty great investment to me.

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    1. They have a piazza between the two buildings that overlooks the lake and they say they will have outdoor heaters in the winder so the place can be used year around. Plus there is a mile long paved walking path around the lake. I know myself well enough to know I'd stay inside all the time if my view was lake side.

      One of the guys moving in will have a wife in the memory care building while he is in the independent living section. He can walk down to visit and if she's having a good day, he can check her out to go to his apartment. I'm looking forward to learning everyones' stories.

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  7. That place sounds terrific! I think you should pick a parking space near your unit so you don't have to lug groceries too far. Just a thought!
    You are getting everything scheduled perfectly - you could be a project manager with your organizational skills!
    Glad you are making friends already! So nice to have a moving date to look forward to! We will all be following you along your journey!

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    1. My dream parking space is right across from the elevator where there are several spaces with windows. With 22 people picking ahead of me I'm not sure I'll get one because everyone will want on near the elevator. I have bought myself a folding cart for lugging groceries in and have been using it here for a couple months. Works perfect for a week's worth of groceries.

      I credit being in the wedding service industry for 20 years for my organizational skills. But it's always been one my best talents.

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  8. Wow, it sounds like a nice place you're moving to. My daughter moved in with Ken and I a little over a year ago when we found out Ken had stage 4 lung cancer so she could be closer to him and help me. When Ken passed away 6 months ago we decided that it would be a good idea for her and my grandson to stay living with me so she can help me out since I don't get around very well anymore. Otherwise I might be moving into a place like that as well.

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    1. So sorry for your loss. I hadn't realized it was only 6 months ago---which isn't much in the grieving process. Lung cancer is what took my dad, too. Having family around in your own house is better than where I'm going. And you have a plan to cover all your bases as you age in place.

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  9. I'm just so impressed with the planning and organizing that is going into this process .... yours AND theirs! I'll be wanting a continuing care facility in the future and need to start my research. We have a great one, nonprofit and resident owned ~ but it is downtown Portland. I'd be lucky to get a weekly visit from these kids! So lucky I can stay here.

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    1. Dollar wise it makes more sense to move in a CC long before you need a nursing homes, memory care or hospice. Because you don't get to sell your investment in the independent unit you're buying.

      I wouldn't like being right downtown either. We have one like that here. Nice place and my aunt was in it. She never drove and worked from a downtown apartment her entire life to work. I would hate being surrounded by concrete. But it was nice to be in the center for street fairs, etc.

      In the past three years our area has built 3-4 new places like this and old and new places have been giving free tours that include lunch. Keep watching for similar opportunities where you're at. If I hadn't toured a bunch of places, I never would have recognized what a good deal I was getting to buy into this one. Baby boomers are going to face a shortage of services if they can't built fast enough.

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  10. Thanks for including a photo of your new digs! Really attractive. It's really wonderful that management is paying close attention to details and it sounds like they're committed to keeping all residents updated and everything you need to know. I'm so happy for you. Also love the fact that you already like the chef ;)

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    1. The chef is not only a great, creative cook he's a really nice guy who has forward leaning ideas like raising vegetables and herbs on sight i raised beds that anyone who wants to can volunteer to help with. And if we have a family recipe we love he's willing to try it out for a special. He'll also cook healthier than I'd do on my own.

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  11. "You'd like drunk me". That made me laugh out loud. (For the record , you'd like drunk me too. I also get silly...and giggly). I would have been severely tempted to go for the lake view but sanity (and my Dutch practicality) would have won out in the end I think. More money and less space, for a view I can access in a couple of minutes if I want to? Not worth it, in my opinion. Plus the winds off the lake might make those units harder to keep warm in the winter, I imagine. I think you did well, with your decision-making.

    Deb

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    1. I really wish we could get drunk together. Getting drunk is a silly thing to look forward to do but I haven't had more than one glass of wine or hard cider with dinner just a handful of times since my husband died.

      The lake side apartments are facing south and me north so the winter winds will get me. I'm pretty I'll notice how much easier it is to heat than where I'm at with 20+ windows facing all four directions (and I can spell 'draftee'). Being warmer in the winter is something else I'm looking forward to.

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  12. Jean, love our journey and how now, the CC is making good on making sure you are all on the same page. And then the comments and your replies adding more information. Maybe you won't see much of the lake side in the winter, but this winter you will be working on making your interior really work. I know you have plans for what goes where, but if you've like any of us in a new place, we re-jig. So come next Spring out you will go walking...

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    1. Isn't that the truth! I plan to take up quilting and/or painting again next winter, too, and probably will do even more downsizing after I move in because I know I'm taking more decorative stuff than I need.

      Just being near a lake is more than I thought I'd have back in my life again. Over the winter I plan to take advantage of the gym to work on my health so by spring I might be able to actually walk the distance around it.

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  13. Sounds like you're really on top of all the details you need to know and remember as you prepare for your big move. Sounds like you're really well-organized which makes this move good timing in your life I think. A local CCC I've considered is offering a new building and units I'll probably explore via one of their upcoming zoom sessions. I still tend to think I'll continue living in place in my home but it is a gamble.

    Now is a home seller's market as I assume it is in Michigan, too. Hope all goes smoothly for you in the months ahead and with the sale of your home.

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    1. We've got a seller's market here too. People are getting dozens of offers and houses selling fast. Even short-term rentals are in short supply so I'm lucky I'll have my niece's place for a few weeks if I need it. That bubble is supposed to burst come October. I just hope mine sells smoothly.

      I had a very bad experience with the last house I sold where a realtor lied and I didn't find out until we were sitting at a closing waiting for the so-called buyer who didn't show up. She hadn't collected the earnest check with the offer and my realtor covered for the other realtor. The so-called buyer was a "man of the clothe". "He would not bail out" but he did. In the meantime since the house was empty but the garage was packed, he said he wanted the place in one week which caused me to scramble to rent storage and move out in a hurry before the closing that didn't happen.

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  14. This place looks beautiful. I love that you and chef will be fast friends. I think that is always a good call Jean. 🤣 This is all so exciting.

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    1. A guy who can cook is such a turn on but you would know that first hand, Don could barely make toast.

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  15. I can't believe my comment disappeared before I could post it. The short version -- I love that they are holding meetings so you can get acquainted and also get the drill on your new home. And everything else I said I forgot!

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    1. I had that happen recently too and it's so frustrating to lose a long comment!

      I can image with 52 units all going at one time, the questions are coming at the coordinator like crazy. So the meetings make sense all the way around.

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  16. This post so delighted me! I'm super excited for you! I think this is exactly the right move and god knows you've earned it with all your years of preparing for it! Woo-Hoo!

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  17. Oh, wow, a moving date! That's very exciting!

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    1. Not only a move-in date, an actual time block assigned to me, as well.

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