On turning 72

Anonymous, Age 72

There has always been something about older people that drew me to them. Perhaps it was their perspective, their stories of a simpler time. I love storytelling so I was an instant student.

I studied gerontology in college, got certified in the field and worked in elder care for a while attending graduate school at night. While I loved working in that field, the corporate side was not for me. I segued into a variety of things including a private geriatric care manager, managed a political campaign, working for a watershed and substitute teaching among others.

Fulfilling a lifetime dream after my divorce in 1999, I moved to the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. I lived on the side of a mountain in the woods for seventeen years. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Living among nature, seeing red wolf, bobcat, coyote and fox in my yard was breathtaking. Hiking, taking flying lessons, exploring watercolors again was invigorating. Living in a small town where “everybody knows your name” fit me to a tee.

Just before I turned seventy, I knew it was time to move closer to family. My daughter was living in Maine so I sold my beloved mountain home and came here. It was a huge adjustment moving to a city, although I was fortunate to find a home surrounded by woods at its outskirts. There are deer, turkeys, coyotes, fox in my yard often. I am grateful.

I had just been in Maine a year when Covid-19 began. It has not been easy to meet people here, to find my group, although my years living solo in the mountains has been invaluable training for these isolating times.

Just over a month ago my daughter, her four year old and the seventy-five pound dog moved in with me. She is going through a divorce. My home here is small by choice. Grateful to be able to welcome my family, this has been a huge adjustment for me. It isn’t just the daily volume of dog hair from the sweetest canine, or the melt downs children go through so often today as much as it is loss of privacy and the quiet to which I became accustomed after my own divorce. In fact, I loved living with self. I never felt alone. Maybe it was the Reiki training, the certification in mindfulness meditation and the years I taught it. It was that act of moving from a fast paced life to one of simplicity, quietude, inner resolve that forever changed me.

I struggle to find the simplicity now, the inner peace. While I know peace is always within oneself, the distractions are huge. In time, I will work this through. At the same time, they will be looking for their own home and I will miss them terribly. It is a paradox and I am glad to find humor in it.

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11 Responses to On turning 72

  1. Betty says:

    I can relate! My daughter was hospitalized in September so I left my secluded 12-acre farm in Tennessee to come across country to help her and my granddaughter for a while. She lives in a small two-bedroom apartment in the city, so we share the space and even her bed! I have been the one to add to the mess in her home by living out of my suitcases and by setting up my easel and paints in the living room. This is temporary. Like you, I will sorely miss it when it’s over–even as I miss and look forward to my solitude.

  2. evelyn eskin says:

    What an adjustment you are going through! Quiet and solitude are more important as we age – you will find ways to get them, althought they will never be as complete as they were. But the joy of being a three-generation house will, I hope outweigh the losses that you feel. It is a special thrill to watch your daughter parent and to be able to share the ups and downs with her. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Women are like tea bags – you don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water! Keep calm and carry on….

    • Anonymous says:

      The responses to my story are really helpful. While I know this is a bleep in time, my daughter is going through a lot with her divorce. I like watching the calmness with which my daughter parents. Her problem solving ideas. The other night we talked about mother-daughter relationships. I mentioned it was sad that daughters feel the power struggle with their mothers as the clock is ticking and there is so much more than could be shared. We will both be working on our parts in this.

  3. Julia says:

    I turned 72 this Summer and still can’t believe it. I have lived in an urban space for a long time now. I yearn to go to a quieter place and I want to enjoy the natural world. The COVID crisis makes a move impossible now. Also, it is difficult to find the right place. My husband and I have travelled around the US (before COVID) looking. We also do research about our options but haven’t found any answers yet. It is great that you love ur new home near your family. Good Luck

  4. Cherylyn Claire Owens says:

    You are blessed in the important ways of life. Though I have not been, I still am thankful to God for giving me many “tangible” blessings – a home, good income, pretty good health, and a daughter nearby.

  5. Francine says:

    I totally understand how peaceful and whole you felt living in the woods. No substitute for the calming companionship of a forest, mountains and wildlife. I experienced the same feeling living in the mountains of Colorado. We had to sell too and I hope to find my piece of paradise again soon. We miss our children and grandchildren so hopefully we will find a place where we can enjoy nature and our family. Wishing you the same!

  6. Theresa says:

    I so understand. As I love my two sons and grandchild more than any people in the world. However, if I they had to live with me in this time of Co-vid of course I would welcome them here in my apartment. However, I do love my privacy and I love being by myself. And I so like you feeling the same. As quite a few of my friends/family look at me like I’m crazy when I say that….It does not mean I love my family any less. I just feel you validated my feelings….Thank you. I know all will work out for you. We learn about ourselves in all this. We must help according to what is going on…but we must also know when we have to save ourselves..to be better to ourselves and therefore be better to those we love.

    • Anonymous says:

      What is really hard for me is that I am neat. I don’t like clutter. My daughter is cluttered. I counted a dozen points of clutter just walking into the great room, kitchen and dining room which is an open concept. Great for a single person or a couple but not for a family. While I realize this is probably for just a year, we are on top of one another here. My daughter argues with my life style rather than pick up after herself. I think she thinks she is doing a good job of it. (I really am trying to find humor in this) Obviously, I am not. (a little chuckle)

      She allows her soon to be five year old to dominate everything. I gave up trying to have any conversation around them. I really enjoyed them more when we had separate homes.

      • Anonymous says:

        UPDATE: They are moving out in a month. It has been bittersweet. We’ve played lots of card games, role played endlessly and had some wonderful conversations.

        She has been through a lot; the divorce goes on and on, the paperwork is enormous. I’ve also been through a lot. Done some deep soul searching with all of this. I miss my privacy less and less probably because I know I will have my home to myself soon. I’ve even ordered new furniture!

        Thank y’all for your kind comments. It has been helpful knowing I am not alone out there.

        • Anonymous says:

          Another update: My daughter and her entourage moved out over the weekend. They are in a lovely apartment close to me. We are all exhausted after her move and my furniture return (which was in storage). We are all grateful for the time together catching up on one another’s daily life. In time, we all adjusted well.

          I really do love my space. What I missed most was my quiet mornings with coffee and catching up on the internet. I’ve got projects planned already with my house; atrium door and a backyard deck.

  7. J. Johnson says:

    You are a very blessed woman. Your life with all its ups and downs has taught you how to enjoy being with you. That is something many people never accomplish. I hope during this crazy time of Covid you can enjoy the brief time you have with your daughter and granddaughter. I can imagine it is difficult but it is also time you will treasure.

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