Many people still live in or near the house where they were born. The last house we lived in was a handsome house that we enjoyed for 35 years. Up until five or six years ago, we had every intention of making our residence there permanent. The children having left long ago, we had much more space than we needed and it became more and more of a challenge to keep it looking the way we wanted it to look. We gradually changed our minds and began to think how nice it would be to live on one floor instead of four. We made plans for sometime in the near future to look for that new home.
Then our lives changed dramatically. In June of 2011, I had a major disabling stroke and could not go upstairs or down. Then, in March of 2012, I fell and broke my hip. I was even more disabled. Even though physical therapy was promising, it was a slow, slow process. We could not see any likelihood in the near future of any substantial change for the better.
Our children took up the banner, leading us to think of a retirement community. Our son lives close by and helps us immensely. Our daughter lives in Philadelphia and does what she can. They both were concerned for our safety, comfort and well-being. There are several fine retirement communities in the Warren area and we explored possible life in some of them thoroughly, deciding upon Shepherd of the Valley in Howland at last.
Our problem was whether we could acquire a home there, sell our house and dispose of a considerable number of our possessions in a timely manner. Thanks to the Lord, everything fell into place. The first couple who looked at our house exclaimed with glee that "this is our dream house!" We had a contract in four days. Many friends came forward and helped us to pack box after box and to dispose of unneeded tchotchkes and various and sundry pieces.
We moved the last Friday in April and have been delighted every day since. For one thing, large deciduous trees, which we enjoyed in season, surrounded our former house, but when they shed their leaves, it was a huge undertaking to remove them. The houses here have far fewer trees and they are much shorter, which allows for long vistas over the green grass and views of the blue sky and billowy clouds that seem to be ever-present.
Shortly after we moved in, we were invited to a neighborhood picnic. It was a thoroughly cordial group, and everyone expressed their happiness to see us.
I talked with Paul Wilson, whom I had known for years in other connections. Last month, he celebrated his 90th birthday, but you would never know it from seeing him move around briskly filling people's beverage orders. His wife, Sarah, seems equally vigorous and energetic.
On a separate occasion, I talked candidly and privately with Paul to inquire about aspects of life at Shepherd of the Valley. He said they moved here nine years ago, mostly at the urging of his wife. She was apprehensive about his do-it-yourself lifestyle and felt, for example, that he should stop climbing around on ladders. At Shepherd, Paul says he enjoys having so many fewer maintenance chores, no house painting, no lawn mowing, no snow shoveling, and what he does he can do at his own leisure. We are looking forward to the same convenience. Paul tends a small garden, and we plan to put in some tea roses at our house too. We are pleased with the freedom we are given to modify our house and grounds as it suits us.
I share some of our experiences with you, in case you are contemplating a similar move. This is a new chapter in our lives and as much as we loved our old house and lifestyle, we find ourselves not sad to leave it, but rather, excited about our new way of living. I have touched on only a few of the joys of retirement community life, but there are many more.