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.