Has this ever happened to you? You’re going along, minding your own business, tending to your life when out of nowhere, bang, there appears the proverbial fork in the road.
I was putting away groceries one day last week and thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my afternoon when Mr. Smith made a surprise midafternoon appearance. My reliable women’s intuition knew something must be up! For the past 13 years he had been working diligently for an extremely wealthy, mercurial, old-world Greek who recently died of Covid at the age 87. NK was a looming presence and a temperamental mentor. His death was the end of an era and we knew there would be changes at work, we just didn’t know when. That morning, Mr. Smith had been told with the business in flux, he was too expensive to keep on the payroll without specific assignments from NK, so there’s the door, don’t let it hit you in the butt on your way out. Well thanks…
It was startling but not unexpected, but still suddenly real. So, the next adventure, what should it be? We ordered a pizza, uncorked a bottle of wine and started brainstorming about our future. What would most enhance our quality of daily life as our “golden” years approached?
Over the past couple of years, we had flirted with the idea of house sharing with my sister. We saw it as our own little artists’ colony in a small artsy village. Mr. Smith with his easel set up out in the yard, painting his next masterpiece. My sister and I wearing flowing caftans, sitting and discussing (arguing) whether or not a particular sentence needed a comma.
We all saw it as mutually beneficial. She would have a second (and third) set of hands to help around the house and yard allowing her to live independently longer and Mr. Smith and I would have a home base and be able to travel or visit grandchildren to our hearts’ content.
But even more important than the practical aspect was the family aspect. The two most influential and important women in my life are my beloved Aunt Ruby and my sister Jeanne. I would give anything to have more time with Aunt Ruby, but that isn’t possible. But I can have time with Jeanne. So, Mr. Smith and I have decided to seize the moment and move to Michigan. He is a native son and I feel like a cherished adopted daughter. We met and fell in love in southeast Michigan. We married and had two of our sons there. In many ways, it already feels like home, full of sweet memories and comforting familiarity.
In this age where individualism seems to be valued over anything else, we realize the concept of home sharing may be unpalatable for many but having considered the pros and cons in our particular case, the pros certainly win out by far. We are not naïve about the challenges that will most likely arise, but feel confident in our ability to meet and conquer what comes our way.
Mr. Smith and I are thrilled at the prospect of living closer to our middle son for the first time in 13 years. And our granddaughters! When I was growing up, the highlight of my summer was spending a week with Aunt Ruby. I can’t wait to have my girls come and stay with me. Our new home is 30 minutes from our oldest son’s wife’s family farm, so they are looking forward to being able to visit both sets of grandparents in one big trip. The wild card is our dual citizenship granddaughter, Eleanor, but know that FaceTime and grandparent love will keep us connected whether she is living in Pennsylvania, Texas or Taiwan.
How do you react when you are faced with a sudden major life decision? While we have often grappled with choices in the past, this one seemed to serendipitously fall into place. It is not how I saw myself living at this point in life, but my life has taken many twists and turns along the way and that is part of why it has been interesting.
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” Joseph Campbell
We are three old people set in our ways or three stars in the cosmic universe, take your choice. We are choosing to make our own path, complete with flower borders and party lights. My sister is a woman of consequence in her own right, and I believe we will all three be richer for this adventure. I have no doubt our grand social experiment will provide much fodder for future blog posts, just as I have no doubt Aunt Ruby would be pleased.
C’est la vie.