Renewed Retirement Dreams

First I want to say, “THANK YOU” to all my loyal readers for staying with me.  I humbly appreciate all of you as well as the kind comments and encouragement.  For those of you on a similar journey as mine I wish you a clear path to ease your way forward.  It will take some time for me to figure out WordPress all over again as they made many changes in my absence.  Time, however, is what I have.  My return to blogging is part of my self-care as I share my retirement story once again.

Most of us retire with deliberateness.  We plan and dream.  As I sit here writing with the serenity of lightly falling snow in my view, I think of all the plans Martin and I made.  None of them included a life shattering illness.  Yet, here I sit mapping a new retirement path.  And dreaming.

As spring 2021 arrived with arrangements to place Martin in memory care, my doctor counseled me.  Don’t make any major changes for at least a year.  Do engage in a period of extended rest and self-care.  After all, I was grieving and dealing with the attendant guilt, which comes with such a decision.   

Seven months later I went straight into the deep end feet first with a major change. It felt right and still feels right.  On the surface my actions appear to be on a whim, but I assure you much thought went into it.

I knew from the moment we bought this huge house I’m living in it was never going to be permanent.  It was too big for the two of us, let alone just me.  But, only five minutes from our daughter, it served its purpose.  I had the nearby help and support I needed as a caregiver.  

After placing Martin, as the months wore on, my mind turned to moving back to South Carolina with its mild winters.  Then, there were the blazing summers.  So, I thought about two homes, summers in Michigan and winters in South Carolina.  Guilt over not visiting Martin for the months in South Carolina chewed at the edges of my heart.  Even with Hospice attending now, his disease is so unpredictable.  The end will come when it comes.  

Yet, while recognizing the fluidity of our situation, I couldn’t help ruminating about my future.  With winter approaching, I also realized I still loved living in a true four season climate.  Wandering online through homes for sale in both markets, hot markets where nothing remained for sale for very long, I found my future.  

Following a visit to Martin one sunny day this past fall, I drove down a pothole riddled road in dire need of replacing.  Forget repairing it.  The asphalt was beyond mending.  But, I noticed the nice homes, the small farms and the seemingly never-ending acreage of a very large farm.  Surprisingly, I was only five minutes from a desirable village where I had established relationships with doctors, dentist, a bank and a few businesses.

A large wooden For Sale sign heralded the two acres I came to see.  Flanked on one side by freshly painted red barns and the original white farm house, my neighbor’s property looked like a beautiful greeting card.  Idyllic.  My acreage – I was already calling it mine – was a long and narrow meadow with oaks lining the frontage.  I could picture the meadow dotted with wildflowers and paths for walking.  And gardens around the house.  Gardens with lavender and thyme and rosemary and vegetables in summer.

Wanting to stick with my doctor’s advice, however, I hesitated even after my daughter affirmed, “Mom you should buy this.”   Even after my builder son-in-law seconded her motion.  Instead I looked at other properties and communities.  Self-doubts about what to do floated in and out of my mind.

Eventually, I realized artificial deadlines were exactly that.  Yes, I bought it!  I determined to forego the one year moratorium on major decisions.  This property, this place called to me as no other in my life.  It had been on the market for two years just waiting for me.  There had been other offers, but mine was the one the sellers accepted.  I was giddy with a renewed sense of excitement for my retirement.

Though bittersweet, I dream of the small house my son-in-law will build for me and the wildflowers in the meadow.  I’m working on a plan with an architect.  A modern farmhouse look, it will be just the right size for my needs.  I plan to sit on my back porch with good friends and family and my cats and good wine and great music.  And writing and drawing and, of course, gardening.

Oh, the road?  Well, I tried to drive down it one day to find heavy equipment being used to tear up the old road before building a new one.  Potholes no more.  Instead, my new road for my new beginning.

33 comments on “Renewed Retirement Dreams

  1. Kathy,
    So glad to hear your new beginnings. Life is just that. I’m dealing with serious concerns with my son. Not knowing the end is paralyzing. Thank you for the best pictures in my mind.

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  2. Congrats. And thank you for sharing the hard parts of your life. So often retirement guides gloss over or omit these all important parts of our “golden years”. I appreciate your honesty. I remember reading that “courage sometimes is simply getting up in the morning”. I find that is so true. So far, for my retirement journey, we are still at the enjoyment and dreaming and having fun planning. We realize our physical limitations of creaky joints. We are fortunate to be able to do a lot of what we want. But having watched our fathers and my aunt face the end of their days, we know there will be tough times ahead. Thank you for being a lantern showing your path forward. Have fun on your next retirement steps. Thanks – cathy

    >

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  3. Sounds lovely Kathy. My dad passed in Sept. and even though mom is still in long term care, things for me are easing off stress wise. Though I have concerns about my husband, for now it’s something I am just keeping an eye on. Wish that my pot hole riddled road was getting re-done! Good luck with the new build!

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  4. I’m glad that you are finding what makes you happy. I missed your blogs and can’t wait to hear more about your new home. Makes my heart smile. Love to you both!

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  5. Oh Kathy — I am so happy for you on your soon-to-be new journey. It sounds so lovely a place. May you enjoy it with peace and beauty in your heart. Guilt-free. Martin would want that for you, as you would for him, had it been reversed.

    The journeys we begin don’t always end up where we intended — or necessarily wanted, with our lives unfolding in ways we didn’t anticipate. But we try and make the best of things, as you are admirably doing. We might not all be on the life road we had begun or planned, but the detour can still lead to an alternate type of peace and beauty. Many blessings on your new road, my friend.

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  6. Kathy, I am so happy for you! I found your blog a few years ago when I retired after 40 years in the medical field. I was struggling to find my new purpose, went back to work per diem for about a year, and then wound up writing a memoir for my kids and grandkids. As I followed your blog I found that my retirement path was sadly taking a similar course as yours. The plans my husband and I made for retirement never came to fruition as my husband was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. It’s been almost 5 years since his diagnosis, and I can see that our time together is nearing an end. I think I’ve grieved the loss of “us” and all the plans we had made since the day of his diagnosis. I’ve always been a planner, and lately find my mind searching for answers as to what I will do when he is no longer with me. I found such happiness in my heart for you when you decided to purchase that property. I hope that I am as lucky to get that “something” that calls to me. I wish you much happiness and peace for the future!

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  7. I smiled when I saw your blog appear in my emails this morning! It is so refreshing to read of your journey and all the emotions yours and all of our journeys involve! After the storm, the calm and hopefulness return. Life is not stagnant! Retirement, like every other part of life, has its challenges! Sending good vibes for renewed peace and serenity!

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  8. Kathy,
    As always your thoughtful approach to all that life brings is helpful for me as I try to navigate being this age and how it looks for my husband and me. Your love for your husband is reflected in all that you write, while still holding onto self care, which is important to your family. I send you my deepest compassion and look forward to hearing about your newest journey. Take care,
    Jaki

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  9. Good for you, Kathy. None of us knows what’s ahead, and we need to take advantage of the time we have and make it as rich as possible. We recently bought a house in Arizona to spend the winters in – summers in Canada. We pondered waiting (there was a real estate price war going on and of course, COVID), renting for a few years, etc – but finally decided to bite the bullet. Are very glad we did as we’re now enjoying something that belongs to us. Best to you and Martin too.

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  10. Kathy, So happy that you made the decision to jump in with both feet! Sounds perfect for you and I know it will bring you joy. I know there will be thoughts of “why Martin could not share it with you”…that we will never know.
    We do not understand a lot of the “why’s” of life, just know that you are thought of, prayed for and loved by friends near and far….keep writing ,dear friend!
    Joy

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  11. Condolences, very challenging time for you. However, so happy to see you back. I have missed you. You are an incredibly strong women. Your new path is inspiring.

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  12. You are always an inspiration to me. I know you have had heartache, but you are resilient. Hoping 2022 brings you peace, health, and joy. Can’t wait to read a post written from that porch.

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  13. Your resilience is an inspiration to me. I hope 2022 brings you peace, health, and joy. Can’t wait to read a post written from that porch.

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  14. I was just thinking about you the other day and wondering if you were still writing this blog and this just popped up in my inbox. So sorry to hear about your husband but am happy to hear you are slowly moving forward. I am happy to hear you found a little piece of heaven in your new property as I know how much you wrote about loving your place in South Carolina. Good luck with everything! Good to hear from you.

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  15. This brought tears of joy to my eyes. I think aging, illness, and other brushes with mortality help us to realize how important it is to seize the opportunities that present themselves.

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  16. Sounds like you found a new sense of purpose and that is wonderful! I’ve been a long time reader and although I don’t often comment, I feel that you sound optimistic about the future. I’m looking forward to hearing about how you’ll bring your plans to life. I’m also a planner and I’m too old to change ( nor do I want to). Take care!

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  17. Kathy, I am thrilled you listened to your inner voice (supported by your family, too).Having the new road being put in is a wonderful sign as well. You are an inspiration to me of how to face life’s twists and turns.

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. We, too, have seen our exciting plans for retirement shattered with serious health issues. How you were able to move on and turn to a new chapter is personally inspirational to me and a guide to anyone facing similar setbacks. I am so sorry for your misfortune. I know how hard it is.

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  19. Thank you so much for sharing your story. We, too, are now seeing a new life shattering health condition totally change our retirement path in a direction that no one would want to go. I never could have imagined that we would be in this nightmare situation. I know exactly what you are going through. Your personal disclosure and decisions to move on serve as an inspiration to me. Thank you.

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  20. It was great to find your blog in my inbox this morning. I found it inspiring and uplifting. So often retirement feels like an ending on some levels, but this post was full of new beginnings and I am so pleased to hear that you are on this new road to your future. All the very best of luck to you!

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  21. Hello from deep in my heart. I have been reading your posts for years and feel that I have accompanied you on your journey through life. I am saddened for the downturn in your husband’s health, but I applaud your decision to reinvent your retirement goals with your new property. I wish you many years of happy planting, nurturing friendships, and contentment. God bless, Kathy Merlino.

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  22. So lovely to read your blogs again Kathy. You give so much hope through all the challenges. I wish Martin well and look forward to hearing more of your plans for your new home. You are an inspiration! Take care!

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  23. I am so happy to read about your new adventure. You sound very motivated and positive.
    Thanks for the inspiring post.
    Regards
    Doreen from South Africa.

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  24. There’s a lot on your plate but you sound like you are handling it quite well.I would love to hear more of your journey through all these twists and turns. My road seems to be like a pothole virus…cure one and another pops up.

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  25. Kathy, my heart aches for you. I am still fairly newly retired. I have been following your blog for quite a while – since before you moved from South Carolina. I am so happy for you and the decision you made, that it feels right in your heart. Thanks for honestly sharing your journey. I look forward to more blog posts as you build your home and settle in. Blessings to you!

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