Fear of the unknown

I will reach the ripe old age of seventy on March 22, 2013, which is already lightly knocking on my door.
To give you a full picture of my situation, I am an only child who has had no natural children. I was married for twenty-nine years and was divorced ten years ago. My ex-husband had two children from a previous marriage, so I had two step-children. I still have a relationship with my step daughter.  We also became involved with a foster son during our marriage and I still have a wonderful relationship with him and consider him my son. He and his wife have three beautiful, sweet children who I love. I’m retired and live alone.
My foster son lives three and a half hours away.  He is encouraging me to move closer to him so I will have someone to check on me and someone to give me support when needed.  I am very independent and always have been, even during my marriage. I live in a tri-level house, with all bedrooms and bathrooms on the second level and the laundry room on the bottom level. This is a very ill-arranged house, but most don’t think of such things in their younger years. Afterall, it has a beautiful view!! I know in time I will be forced to move from this house. The stairs are already challenging, since I broke my ankle at age 65, had surgery, and it did not heal properly.
I have tried to entertain the idea of moving to the little town where my son, his wife, and three children live. I only want to make one move.  I have lived in this house for thirty-nine years.  I feel totally safe and comfortable here and have a beautiful view of a lake from my front door, which has brought me much pleasure down through the years.  My yard is large and un-level and even though I enjoy working in the yard, I can no longer keep it going without help.
I recently visited my son and his family with my close friend.  While there, my friend and I went riding around and found a house for sale that I kinda liked.  It is an older house, with loads of storage space, and has the master bedroom, master bath and laundry room on the bottom level.  There are two bedrooms and a bath upstairs, but they would only be used for guests, in my case. I made a trip back to meet with a realtor.  My friend and I both really liked the house as did my son and daughter-in-law. I’ve collected antiques for years and my furniture could really be show-cased in this house.  I have a lack of storage space where I currently live and this place has tons of storage space including a very large room behind the carport with shelves for storage.
I actually became excited about the house and it’s been one of the few things I’ve been excited about in a very long time. I admit I’ve gotten into quite a rut here.  I actually don’t have any really close friends here. I worked in the neighboring town for thirty years and my job was my life.  After I retired, I realized how few people I really knew here. My friends were with the company I worked for and scattered all over. My college roommate lives approximately an hour and a half from where I currently live and my girlfriend who traveled with me to my son’s, lives probably about an hour and a half away in the other direction and she’s still involved with a job so we don’t see each other that often.  I do have one other really good friend who lives completely across town and we meet for lunch occasionally.  Those are my three closest friends–no close friend nearby. I did join a Red Hats club and I go to that but have only made casual acquaintences.
I’ve given you all this history to help you understand my situation. I haven’t bought the house but was getting very close to making an offer (my son was going to handle all that for me). It’s all become over-whelming and terribly so. I have accumulated tons of stuff at this house after thirty-nine years, that, coupled with being a pack rat.  I work one day on trying to go through things and the next day I can hardly walk due to my ankle.  So it goes.
This week end I am getting cold feet and lots of doubts are creeping in.  The only view from the “new” house is one of the ugliest houses I’ve ever seen which is across the street. It is located in a small town. Even though I grew up in a small community, I have absolutely loved living here with easy access to good restaurants, theaters, shopping, different types of entertainment, excellent grocery stores, etc. plus a beautiful view. If I moved, I would have to make a lot of adjustments plus the temperatures there average four to six degrees colder, which I hate.
On a positive note, if I moved, I would have a son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren checking in on me and would have loads of activities to keep me involved. I would also have a job waiting for me, a sit-down job, with one of my son’s friends. I definitely need more interaction with people plus I could use the extra income. During my days here, in the rut I’ve been in, I have been prone to stay at home and have stayed on the computer ordering things.  It’s a means of entertainment, of sorts, yet it has caused credit cards to soar. I order mostly clothes, and have worlds of them in closets with the tags still on them because I no longer go anywhere.

If I moved, I would have a ready-made set of friends through my son’s family and I absolutely love the church they go to.  My daughter-in-law also works there.
I’m scared to death!!  What if I move and am miserable and all I can think about is the place I’ve left with the beautiful view. What if I’m not happy there?  On the other hand, I’m not exactly happy here either–just comfortable. I realize happiness is not a place; it’s a state of mind, or at least that’s what I’ve always been told. I really don’t know what my true feelings are.  I’ve been on a roller coaster for days–one minute being semi-excited about the house and displaying my antiques and then I think about looking out the window at that gosh-awful ugly house across the street. The next minute I feel so over-whelmed that I literally think a move is virtually impossible.
Surely I am not the only seventy year old (or almost) to experience such conflicting feelings. Many older people, including my parents, have been faced with the difficult decision of uprooting themselves or being upooted by relatives as a necessity. Reality tells me that I do need to be closer to people who care about me. I also have cousins close to the small town.  In fact I grew up only about an hour away from the location of the house.
I know, from taking care of my parents their last three years, that it’s only going to get worse.  By that, I mean I will be forced to give up some of my independence.  The time came when my parents could no longer drive, do their grocery shopping or handle their business without my help.  They were 83 and 84 when they died.  I hope I still have some good years left before all of that occurs, BUT, if I live long enough and face reality, these things will happen.
I am one who will not give up her independence until absolutely necessary and my son knows that.  Still, I need to face reality. I also need to consider him because he makes the long trip every time I have some medical procedure, etc. I use to do that with my parents, so I know what it’s like, especially when one has a job.
How do I conquer the “fear of the unknown?” I’m in such a quandry now that I honestly don’t know what I feel about anything.  I have all these thoughts swirling through my mind. If I were young, I could move, knowing I could always move back if I wasn’t happy.  But, I’m not young; I’m older than dirt!! And, I only want to make one move–even if that’s possible.
The house is darling, with a front porch and a back porch, which I’ve always loved. It has the conveniences I need and will have to have at some point in time if I live long enough.
What do you think? Do I do something that I’m not totally convinced that I want to do because it seems the most intelligent thing to do or do I remain comfortable, always wondering what it would have been like and knowing at the same time that a move is inevitable–maybe not now, but definitely in the future.
In some ways, I’m beginning to feel old, yet, in other ways I refuse to.  I’m going to a Keith Urban concert next month and belong to his fan club.  I’ve practically become a Keith Urban groupie these last few years.  In a way it’s funny, at my age, but I have no apologies because I genuinely like him and his music. I’ve also started to wear more bling than I’ve ever worn.  In my earlier years I was probably more “old lady” like because I was always very conservative.  Now, the more bright colors and the more bling, the better!!
I have been through a lot during my latter years and already have had to make a lot of adjustments.  I went through the end of a twenty-nine year marriage, retired from my job after thirty years, had a double by-pass, broke my ankle with resulting surgery and then last year broke my wrist and had surgery on it. Financially, I’ve gone from two people supporting a household to one and from a regular salary with bonuses to a fixed income. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve made it and I have peace in my life.
I am in the final stretch and I want to make the right decision.  I want my last years to be happy, healthy and peaceful.I might have met my Waterloo with this decision and I have no crystal ball. As a seventy year old, I’ll bet I’m not the only one going through this sort of thing or who has already gone through this. I wonder what others feel and experience and what helped with their decision making.
This has been rather lengthy, I realize, but I wanted to give the whole picture.  The way I found your site is by googling, out of desperation, how does a seventy year old make a decision to move, or something like that  Anyway, I kinda think it was fate that brought me to your site and I think it’s wonderful that you’ve started it.

I would love to hear what others think about the situation, but, unfortunately, I need answers quickly.  The offer needs to be done this week or I stand to lose the opportunity of getting this particular house and should I move, I really think this particular house was in many ways made for me–even though it has a gosh awful ugly house across the street. Ha!
Thanks for listening.

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8 Responses to Fear of the unknown

  1. Anne Heller says:

    A couple of things. At 70 I moved from Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest to Taos, New Mexico. I too am an only child; I have an only child, my daughter, who lives in the SF Bay area. She comes to visit a couple of times a year. It was a great move. I’ve been here 8 years and I’ve made new friends, I’m living in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and in spite of health issues, I’m doing fine. I strongly urge you to buy a house on one level (after 75, arthritis really kicked in!) and to divest yourself of any possessions that you don’t love, find beautiful, or find to be useful. I gave away more than half of what I owned and I don’t miss it a bit! Say yes to a new life — reinvent yourself!

    May your life be rich and full of days,


  2. Carole says:

    Hello FOTU: Go. Enjoy the adventure.

    There isn’t much in life that is truly written in stone, so take the chance. Remember if it doesn’t work out for you, you can always make another decision. At 66 I moved from where I had lived for nearly 25 years to a state 1000 miles away; I was alone, I didn’t have a job and I didn’t know anyone, and the challenge has invigorated me in ways I could not have imagined and enriched my life in the process.

    Go through your house and give away some of the things to people you care for where you live now; give things to charities knowing that somewhere, someone will treasure them and put them to good use. Take the things you love and want around you and enjoy your wonderful foster son and family and your new job. This is a new and wonderful opportunity for you–leap into it with all your might. Love and luck.

  3. Shirley Kelly says:

    Good morning!

    You do have some big decisions to make, that’s for sure. The one thing that stands out to me is that if you do decide to move closer to your son and his family, you still need to find ways to create a new life for yourself. I have seen it happen so often where the parent moves to be closer to their son/daughter and they are working, have their own friends, activities, etc. I am 77 and have re-created my life several times with various moves starting with my divorce 41 years ago.

    I do agree that a house on one level is very important. Also, if you don’t like the “view” from the house you are looking at, you will “hate” it once you are moved in. I know that, too, as I moved into this independent senior apt complex 7 1/2 years ago. Before I have always had my own outdoor space: patio, balcony, etc. Here I don’t. I thought I could handle it, but I hate not having that.

    Good luck on your decisions.


    • Susan Winsor says:

      I wonder if there is a way to move but leave an option open to return, like not selling your present house. My instinct is to go, to embrace the new opportunity, perhaps find a different house with a better view that you like more. I moved 12 years ago for similar reasons and was scared to death of not knowing anyone in the new community. I’ve found that my interests…gardening, horses, animals, the outdoors, have been gateways to new friends. I love that you would have your own space and independence. You sound like an interesting person, but it is normal isn’t it to fear the unknown? I certainly did and still do. I like the previous comment about if you don’t like it make another decision that remedies that.
      Good luck!

  4. Lynne Spreen says:

    Sounds like it’s 50/50, equally divided between good and bad! A difficult choice, but for me, being around family – not so they can look after me, although that’s implied, but so I can revel in their closeness – would be decisive. It sounds like you can do everything there (and more) that you are doing in the current situation. So I agree, the only really bad challenge is the fear, the change, the transition. But you might consider this: what if in 5 or 10 years you want to move but then you’re REALLY scared, and now you have less money because you’ve been frittering it away due to boredom (and what does that tell you?) You are so lucky to have caring family. But I agree with Shirley Kelly, maybe get a different house in your son’s town. You want to like where you live. Best wishes!

  5. Couldn’t you rent for a couple of months to see how you like the area and the lifestyle?

    I would hope you could make this a slow and gentle process with plenty of room to change your mind.

    Also, I agree that you need a one story house.

    Good luck! I wish you every happiness in whatever you decide.

  6. Pat says:

    Your post that you feel “older than dirt” made me sad! I am 73 and certainly do not feel that way or would even think that! Our attitude about our circumstances says alot. My husband of 52 years died in 2011 and I found me a nice male friend through a dating site. We kayak, dance, bike and go places together. I am President of a Conservation group and lead an art group. I think to have friends and things you like to do and get involved in makes you feel younger than your years. I hope you find that in your new area. Best wishes.

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