Very much OUR home
We built our home in the desert with the expectation of living out our lives here. We planned ramps and grab bars and wheelchair-accessible space. We wrote our favorite quotations around the ceilings, had a china cabinet custom made with long-ago-salvaged glass doors, painted grapevines around the front door. We built bookshelves in every available space.
We’ve enjoyed sunset from my study window, moonrise from our bedroom, and both from a swing on the patio.
One week we knew we’d stay here until our ashes were distributed in the rose garden of our church.
The next week we were looking at houses on line, with our daughter and family 1000 miles north.
Skus summed it up: “We have to move while we can.” Before something happens and one of our children has to do it for us. Before we both stop driving and someone has to take time off work for our medical appointments because, as we discovered, there’s no senior bus service outside city limits.
Fifteen years ago we realized, as I recovered from a broken–no, smashed!–ankle, that we ought to be closer to one of our children. Skus had retired and I did medical transcription on line. At this time our newly-divorced daughter needed a home for herself and three children, near both her work and her ex, so they could share custody. [John wasn’t interested in marriage counseling, but he didn’t divorce his children; he supported them, kept them alternate weeks. Both parents participated in holidays and birthdays.]
We combined resources and bought a home together. The children grew up, our daughter made new friends, and we built our own home.
This time, our youngest daughter and family lost the home they had rented for years because the owners became elderly and sold it. Our daughter was between jobs just then, so their only choice was a cramped apartment. So we combined resources and found a place with a daylight basement apartment for us, good space for them above. We won’t have to drive; we’ll be in town where there’s affordable transportation when the family drivers aren’t available.
We’ll miss our special place in the desert. We’ll enjoy the youngest grandchildren in the few years before they fly the nest. We’re downsizing, giving children and grandchildren the heirlooms they want while we can enjoy the fact that they want them.
Both People and Books Multiply
We couldn’t have imagined, when we made our marriage vows, that some decades later we’d be part of extended family gatherings, would have traveled together across the country as we hoped, and would be celebrating a family so diverse in religious belief (and lack of it), in skin color and hair style, in cultural heritage (thanks to in-laws and military stations), in sexual orientation, and, a bit less comfortably, in politics.
Neither did we foresee the results of generational reading. We treasure the books our parents enjoyed, some left to us by grandparents, even a few from the generation of the mid 1800s. We ourselves behave in used-book stores like alcoholics at a bar. Our garage houses books, nothing motorized or even computerized. We can’t move the garage 1000 miles north, and our daughter’s family expects to keep cars in the garage.
We aren’t too old to learn. We’ll even downsize bookshelves.