August 16, 2019
Earlier this week, my grandson started high school. I wasn’t there, but I am guessing his mother, my firstborn, bit her bottom lip and fought back a tear or two. When I saw the photos she posted, I know I did. This handsome boy, who isn’t too cool to still give me a big hug when he sees me or tell me “I love you, Grandma” was off to his next adventure in this thing we call life. He and his new classmates divest themselves of another parental restraint and test new waters while their parents hope and possibly pray that they don’t screw it up. I remember those feelings. When our children hit certain milestones, their Dad and I were sure we had done all we could to prepare them, knowing that we would be there to help them pick up the pieces if needed, but ultimately, they had to carry the load. It was on them. We changed our guiding message as they grew, adjusting it to be age appropriate. “Listen to teacher.” “Use kind words.” “Be good to one another.” “Make good choices.” “Don’t be an idiot.” “If I find out you are (Insert appropriate bad, possibly illegal behavior here.) you will regret it.” “Don’t measure your worth by whether you have a man on your arm.” “Always treat others as you want to be treated.” “If you’ve been drinking, call anytime and we will pick you up, no questions asked.” “This is a home, not a restaurant. Eat what’s being served, or don’t eat. Nothing but water until breakfast.” “It’s not my job to make your existence a fairy tale. Quit your whining. Life is hard. Get used to it.” And my personal favorite: “You better hope the cops get to you before I do.” The list goes on; you get the picture.
So, as I thought about my grandson this week and how he will be navigating new situations, it brought me to my own. After a health scare late last year (separate blog), I made the decision (though the bossier of my two children would beg to differ, claiming it was hers) that it was time to relocate. So, I did. I left the Northeast for the Southeast. No more snow (or very little), warmer (read often stifling) temperatures, slightly cheaper (but not really) cost of living, and a place where everyone calls me “Ma’am.” I arrived in April, Tax Day to be exact, and in some ways, I feel like my 14-year-old high school freshman grandson. The first few weeks, I didn’t know anyone, except for those to whom I was related. I didn’t know my way around, and honestly, I had a real sense of trepidation. And, I didn’t have my partner, my husband, which would have made this new life a lot more fun, because we could do it together. Have I told you that losing your spouse really sucks? It’s been almost four years and some days I swear it’s harder than it was four years ago. I wish I knew why. But I digress.
I had lived in the same place for close to 40 years. Moving and downsizing was a reminder that “stuff” doesn’t make you happy. Get rid of it. What is her name? Marie Kondo? This woman comes in a tiny package of determination to help us get rid of “stuff.” I was never one for accumulating a lot of things, but my husband was, so when we initially started the downsizing process a little over four years ago, it was certainly a daunting task. His health issues had hampered his ability to walk and see and he was quite weak. Thankfully, my daughters and their wonderful husbands took on the gargantuan job of purging the crap out of our large family home. And I am here to tell you, it was a job. They got it done over a long weekend and we were in great shape; a huge dumpster and countless trips to Goodwill notwithstanding. Two weeks later he died. So, a southern expedition was put on hold. I wasn’t ready to make that change without my love. The very thought of doing it by myself gave me angina and a sense of profound loneliness. Fast forward three years and my health scare (a separate blog, I promise) and suddenly I realized that the decision was essentially made for me due to circumstances over which I had little control. Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise. Change was coming.
So, here I am in the sunny south. All the boxes are unpacked. My place is beginning to feel like home. I am learning my way around and beginning to make some friends. On the friends’ front, it’s likely that my big mouth has helped. I am a people person for sure. I like people and I think/hope people like me. Yes, I did “audition” several bars/restaurants to see which one would be a suitable replacement for my dear friends at home who always made me feel special and not like a single woman on the prowl (another blog) because she sits alone at the bar. To my good fortune, I found “my place” and I couldn’t be happier, and I have met some lovely people. I have met a few neighbors who are pleasant, seem to get my snarky humor and have welcomed me with open arms. I joined a Rotary Club; again, after auditioning several and feel very much at home and look forward to getting my hands dirty doing some good works for my new community. The biggest trauma for me was finding a new hair salon. I have been using the same stylist for 20 years. She was 19 and fresh out of school when we became a couple. She just turned 40. I will never get over our divorce. Neither of us wanted it and we still email and text. It’s very painful. I love you, Suzanne! New doctors have been procured, a new vet for my rescue Chihuahua, who believes he is a Rottweiler, groceries, pharmacy, malls, you name it. I am still finding my way and trying to achieve a level of comfort in my “new normal.” (I hate these clichés and of course, you guessed it, will be addressing such in a separate blog.)
So, as my adorable 14-year-old grandson is learning to adapt to all the changes in his life, I on some level, can relate. This semi-adorable 69-year-old grandmother is also learning to adapt, albeit slowly to all the Ch..Ch..Ch..Changes in hers. With apologies to David Bowie.