Moving is Momentous!

29 Oct

I began to move a couple of weeks ago, but this is an unusual type of move and so it is taking a lot longer than normal. Perhaps I should mention that I have lived in this house for 9 years and I love it here. I love the area, I love the house, and I wish I could stay.
However my mother is 99 years old. She will reach the age of 100 in less than 4 months. She is healthy. She is basically happy. But her friends have mostly all died. This is really sad for her. And she is lonely. Of course she is becoming frail as well, so she needs much more help than before. She stopped driving herself when she was 93. She has a man who drives for her and does other heavy lifting about the place. Her cook has been with her for 40 years. Mother lives in the same house she and my father bought before I was born. Now she has 24/7 caregivers and it is best if there is someone there to keep tabs on all these helpful people.
No one else in the family was able to do it. So one day I decided that in keeping with the Serenity Prayer, there is nothing I can do to “Change” my mother and her living arrangements. However, I can change my own attitude and my place of residence. I found that I had the courage to do it. So my move to Washington DC is nearly complete. Compressing my long life into one room and some extra closets requires some very serious downsizing. My children have helped me manage this by taking most of my things off my hands. It is very flattering to know that they want my things, that they like my things and will take good care of them. When I go into one of their houses and see my favorite paintings, rugs, silver, and furniture it warms my heart. It makes me feel right at home.
Really, it is fun to see each house displaying various aspects of my personality and preferences from my vacated house/home. It is sort of like multiplying my own design ideas and seeing them mutate in marvelous ways. That part is great. What is difficult is sorting through files, going through photo albums and scrapbooks. Most of them have never been culled. Many of the boxes of files have followed me from house to house and office to office without actually being sorted in years. And so many need to be shredded, deleted, gone. But they MUST be gone through because there are actually some important documents among the detritus.
I am almost done now. After many bags of trash and trips to second hand stores, the rest is going to be carted off by others. I will be free. I will be unencumbered by things. Really only my books and a reduced amount of clothes and my 2 small dogs are going with me to Mother’s house. My computers will be reduced down to a laptop and my iPad and a bunch of flash drives! My new life calls and now I have space for it to arrive.

Fall 2017 A Time of Change

23 Oct

Sometimes we suddenly know what to do next. Solutions just come down to us as a message from outside ourselves. Some might say it is divine, others simply point to inspiration from our own inner selves. It really does not matter. The point is to follow when the directions are given.

Lately this happened to me as I swam peacefully doing “lengths” all alone one morning. I have been torn lately by my desire to be in my house in Charlottesville Virginia and by the necessity of being in Washington DC with my charming and healthy 99 year old mother. Her friends are mostly gone and she is lonely. What a dilemma! No matter in which place I found myself there was always a pull to be in the other location.

Then that September morning as I swam, it suddenly came to me. The Serenity Prayer which I first heard at a High School assembly, popped into my mind. I am sure you know it:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The sentiments involved in that prayer have guided me over and over in my life but sometimes, I need a little push. That is what I got that day in the cool, gentle water, under a clear blue sky. A thunderbolt of an idea that has sent me on a difficult path. I understood that I cannot do anything about my aging mother and her need for entertainment and management of her help. That is out of my hands. But what I can do is stop being divided in my attention. It is entirely in my power to give up my house in Charlottesville and move permanently to live full time with Mother in Washington DC.

As I write this, I am in Charlottesville moving out of my house to live in Washington DC.  But I got sick last week when I first came down here.  REALLY SICK. I am sure it was psychological because it is wrenching to move and to give away my things.

Deciding to divest myself of my things was a big decision which I did not consider for much more than an instant. I just knew immediately that it was the right thing to do.

I am making space, making space in my life for whatever is coming next. As I keep telling friends and family, it is very liberating.  But of course there is a huge sense of loss of a former self and a host of memories associated with each object, each piece of furniture, each set of china, each lamp, painting and rug and every piece of silver….So, even if I am completely happy about the move and about giving these possessions away….There is still an emotional wrench.

So I got sick.  Now my health has improved and though there is still a lingering cough and congestion.  Because I could not go back to Mother’s house with that horrible cold/flu I have stayed in Charlottesville all week.  So I am almost finished with my moving out. What a sense of satisfaction I shall have at the end. I am almost there!

My first post in a full year!

20 Jul

I am terrified to write this blog post. Why? I write every single day in a journal that I have been keeping since August 2015.  Writing does not scare me and I have a lot to say. Procrastination is probably the reason behind the fear or maybe it is the other way around. The fear is uppermost in my mind.
Perhaps it is because I have not written a blog post since almost exactly one year ago. So much has happened in my life during that year. A great number of friends and relatives have passed away during that time.   Some  were old, as old as 100, and some were way too young to die.  All of that loss makes me very grateful for my life. 

And I am very mindful of my general  good luck with my health because of an accident I had in January.

I fell and broke my leg at the ankle. It was just a silly accident, a misstep while trying to do something nice for someone else. However it set me on a course to be the “live in house manager” and entertainment supplier for my 99 year old mother.  I had been living with her already, but now I moved in to a first floor bedroom with the knowledge  that I could not leave at all for 3 months. Because I had surgery on my ankle my doctor forbad me to put any weight on my bad leg until he could remove a long screw that held the two bones in my leg together. That was rough. For 3 whole months, no weight on my foot ever. No walking cast. And there was a real fear that were I to inadvertently put weight on that leg I could cause the bones to fracture because of that screw. I got around in a wheel chair constructed of some very light metal. It could be slid around using just my one good foot and no need to be pushed.  My favorite mode of transportation was on a knee scooter which was actually really fun. Becoming adept at using the tools available to “invalids“ these days, gave me a sense of accomplishment. It also gave me a healthy respect for those pioneers who forced “handicapped friendly” access all over this country. Because of those people I could go almost anywhere, including bathrooms.

When you are reduced to using a wheel chair or other vehicle like my scooter, to navigate the world, it is wonderful to discover that someone has thought of you ahead of time and made it possible.  I became very comfortable with my “wheels” but also impatient as the time approached that I could put weight on my foot. It turned out to be a lot more complicated than I had thought. Today July 20th, I am still somewhat lame on my left leg. My ankle swells still, and there is pain in the muscle or ligaments sometimes. Mysterious unexplained pain.  That makes me even more sympathetic to those who will forever be bound to chairs or other devices in order to move freely.  It is true that gradually one adjusts to what can be done easily and what cannot.  In some ways it is restful to know what your limitations are. Then you can deal with what is and leave the rest.

I found this to be true for myself. Before my accident I was constantly under a sort of tension about when I would leave my mother’s house to go home to my house in Charlottesville VA. The threat of being caught in rush hour which spans approximately 4 hours in the morning and another 4 every evening in the Washington DC area scared me into leaving early or late to avoid it. The tension underlying every day wore on me without my realizing that it colored everything.


Once I knew I must stay in one place, I resigned myself to it. It became relaxing and peaceful to have those worries taken from me. I became at peace with my enforced stay in Washington D.C. and to think of myself as a permanent resident. It seems reasonable to join local groups and try to enjoy the city which has become my home.

The Serenity Prayer is so helpful:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.