It has been over three years since Peter died, and I have learned to be OK while rambling around in my big house. I sleep on one side of the bed and since I don’t thrash around at night, bed-making is a cinch, particularly when I toss the duvet right on top of any wrinkles that might be visible to the naked eye, with or without Lasik. Unless a friend is over to watch television, I hike upstairs to settle in to watch my favorite programs, ensconced with four pillows and possibly a bag of popcorn at my side. BTW, Skinny Pop bags go soggy in just a few weeks. I opt for Boom Chicka Pop in little bags which seem to have the shelf life of a Twinkie!
But, something changed when the alarm went off in the middle of the night recently. I ran downstairs armed with my trusty can of Easy Off oven cleaner? Really? Oven cleaner as a weapon against an intruder? WTF was I thinking? And then a lightbulb went off in my head. I hadn’t comprehended that the weight of caring for a house, and keeping myself safe, was stressing me out. I finally came to the awareness that I was sick of changing lightbulbs on precarious ladders. I was tired of worrying if the garbage cans were out on trash day. I was pissed that I had to worry about the leaves in the pool, the cracks on the walls, and whether the alarm system would function without going off at odd times of the day. Besides the three flights of stairs, which granted, are good exercise, were taking a toll on my compromised knee. It had taken three years, but the decision came to me in an instant. I needed to move to an apartment on one level.
When you are in the throes of early grief, the thought of moving any of your things is abhorrent. It is all you can do to get rid of your spouse’s things. But after a few years, you begin to be inured to your changes and the day-to-day routine of caring for a house can be taxing, pardon the pun. You find yourself ready to begin a new life, in a new place, without the old memories. I was suddenly ready to move. I was on the path from helplessness to resilience and moving seemed a smart route to take.
To move this process along, I began the task of “right-sizing,” by getting rid of all the crap I have collected over the years. I never had any qualms about donating old clothes that I hadn’t worn in a few years. If I didn’t feel 100 percent in something I wore, “bye bye!” Now I had to begin weeding out pots, pans, books, dishes, and tschochkes – those trinkets that at one time, meant something, and now just take up space. Do you really think I need to keep balls of half-used yarn, the too-heavy Le Creuset pots which always throw my back into spasm, and the never-used vases that come with flower deliveries? Good riddance! It is a slow start to the process, but each day I find new items to donate and then a few more items that need to hit the trash bins. My philosophy is that I am giving a new home to these things which is a good thing for my psyche.
I have put my house on the market. I have a large “for sale” sign outside that says that I am ready to do this! I am not happy about people tramping through my house, but I leave my house in the capable hands of one of my best friends, who is a fabulous realtor. It is scary, it is upsetting, but I know that I am ready to make this momentous change. it is big step but one that will open a new window on my journey to an acceptably different life.
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