Jo, Age 71
Already I feel less alone reading the blog posts. Here is my story. I am almost retired as an autism consultant and former academic. I’m single with 3 grown children in 3 corners of the U.S. Seattle, Western CT and Miami. I was recently diagnosed with CLL, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and although it can be a chronic condition, I have some markers for poor survival. That being said, I’m active, hike the Appalachian Trail, play in a music group and do some work-related writing. I’m feeling pretty well and will probably need treatment within the next year.
I live alone in Metro D.C. My sister lived 5 miles away but has moved to Wisconsin. I have had several health crises and have had very little support from my friends. Most of them are older than I with health problems or are carers for their spouse so I can’t depend on them. I grew up in the NE in a huge Italian-American family with aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins. I have always felt “something isn’t right” without family. My grandchildren are in Seattle, across the country. While I like Seattle, I would be moving away from my other children, cousins, and everything I have ever known. To complicate issues, my family in Seattle isn’t happy there and are working on finding jobs elsewhere. Although I am very welcome there, and the medical care is good, I am apprehensive, given my health issues, to move and move again, following my grandchildren all over the map.
If I am going to sell my home in D.C.,I want another small house, garden, bird feeder, 2 laying hens, etc., and the time to settle and make new friends. Seattle is so expensive, that wouldn’t be an option. Condos are nearing 1/2 million.
My son in CT, who has no children, would like me to live near him; he and I have more of an emotional compatability than my other kids. Western CT is affordable, clean, lovely, but medical care would require a trip to mid-town Manhattan about once a month – a 2 1/2 hour trip on Metro North. He is suggesting that I buy a small home near him and spend several months a year in Seattle to be with the little ones. My son in Miami is a chef/restaurant owner and doesn’t have time for himself, let alone me so Miami is out.
I could also stay here in D.C., and while I have a good oncologist, acupuncturist, am in a mindfulness meditation group and know my way around since I’ve been here since 1988, I have had several hospitalizations and health crises and had to deal with them on my own. I think the kids look at me as Wonder Woman and while that’s a great thought, reality is my health is fragile at times and the kids have not stepped up. I realize they have their own lives and none of them is within reasonable travel distance; the drive to CT is a good 6 hours from here and its getting harder and harder for me to do. I am always, 90% of the time, the one making the effort to stay connected. I’m tired.
I have been in the process of sorting, purging, donating for over two years. I accumulated an embarrassing amount of stuff, including my mother’s things. She lived with me (and turns 95 next month) but is now with another sibling since my diagnosis.
I go around and around; Seattle, CT, D.C., sometimes depending on which of the two kids ticked me off; the Seattle contingent or the CT group. I know the life I want (small cottage, garden. maybe walkable community) with my family nearby). This is affordable in CT; not in Seattle. Seattle has the kids and part of the lifestyle but a built in “waiting for the other shoe to drop” since they want to move away. I am getting more accepting that I am going to have to make new friends so I’m not as stuck there. I would sincerely appreciate any wise words from my sisters on this blog
Thanks very much. Hope this wasn’t too long winded.