Monday, June 6, 2011

Talking About It

Okay, so I've been posting a lot of photos lately. Rather than more photos, I would like to share some of my feelings.

There are times in life when it flows along, when you know who you are, where you belong, and what you should be doing each day. I have had times like that. Middle-aged, married, working, living in a home. I knew I would get up each day and go to work, come home and put dinner on the table. On the weekends I would do the grocery shopping and other errands, see friends, go to a movie or a restaurant. Life was predictable.

Then you get older. Children move away. Grandparents and parents die. You think about retiring. You think about downsizing. I am in that period now. My father and my husband's parents are gone. My mom is in her eighties and needs help. My husband is thinking of retiring. I haven't worked since we moved away from my job. Now I am getting mail from Social Security and Medicare. Decisions have to be made. Life is changing. You think about what it will be like five years from now, ten years from now.

We lived in the Philadelphia area for sixteen years. We had made a lot of friends, had great neighbors, and I had a job that suited me perfectly. (Well, you know, some days are not perfect at work!) Anyway, we were settled and life was predictable. Then we decided to move to Kentucky to be closer to family. That has worked out fine. We got to be close to my mother-in-law as she was dying. We get to see my mom more often. I live near my youngest sister and her three girls. I have gotten to know my nieces in a way I never could have living at a distance. I have watched them grow up from little girls to young teens and tweens.

It wasn't always easy adjusting, though. I missed going into the city every day to work, missed the vibrancy of Center City Philadelphia. I found too many chain restaurants and not enough chef-owned restaurants. These are the things I meant when I started this blog and commented that I was "trying to assimilate". The culture is not as diverse here. We are in the Bible Belt and a Red State. I find people to be extremely kind but I don't always feel like "one of them".

I have also become a "cat lady". We have feral cats in our neighborhood, and a bunch of them have "adopted" us. We now have three of them living in our house, and I am very attached to them. The strange thing is, I also feel attached to the ones who remain feral, who still live outside, coming to us for food every day and shelter from the winter weather. My husband and I have had them neutered, feed them, and provide shelter for them in the winter. I am amazed at how attached we have become to these little feral cats... we have even given them names. Thank goodness we have another couple of very kind "cat ladies" next door who help us with them when we can't be here.

The one thing I have not been able to adjust to is the weather here. This is part of the Midwest, that seems prone to extremes. The winters can be brutally cold, with snowstorms and icestorms. This spring was particularly bad. April was the rainiest in history. It was cold and damp all through the months that should be Spring. Then, suddenly it turned hot. It goes from cold and damp to hot and humid. The summers are so hot and sticky that just a few minutes outside is too much. I still remember beautiful Spring days in Philadelphia, with cherries and dogwoods blooming and azaleas everywhere.

Anyway, this is where things stand now. We are here and we love being near our families, we appreciate our kind neighbors, and we are attached to our cats, both indoors and out. We are thinking about retirement, how to live the last part of our lives. Things are not as predictable as they once were. We can't take our health for granted, as we could when we were young. We think about the future when we might not want to go up and down stairs. We think about having enough money to pay medical bills and travel and do all the things we want to do with the time we have left.

I guess I am kind of nostalgic about my younger self. I go through old papers, pictures and memorabilia and realize how much things have changed over the years. I am trying to "declutter" and keep only things that I need, but find so many things I used to use that I don't need any more, and it isn't always easy to let them go. This age is a strange time in life. I see my mom and how relatively helpless she has become, and I don't want to admit that is ahead for me. Me and millions of other Baby Boomers. I guess we are all thinking these things, or soon will be.


rachel said...

A thoughtful and thought-provoking post. You have definitely moved into another important life stage, and you're right, I think, to examine it carefully and make some sense of it. Still so much living to do, though!

Natalie said...

You have so much to ponder, consider. It can get overwhelming when you want to make the "right" decision... at least I feel this way. I hope that you find answers that arise and feel right, inspire you, so that when the time comes to make changes you feel happily motivated about the future. ((hugs))

judy in ky said...

Rachel and Natalie, I can always count on your kind interest and wise words, and it means a lot to me. Change comes to every life, and it can be a bit disorienting, not to mention emotional.

Garden of Weeden said...

May I quote Michael Peake "Everything I've ever let go has claw marks on it" (me too) Dee

judy in ky said...

Oh no! That's too funny and too true, too.