Life. It can be intense!
When my 60-something husband and I (also 60-something) began planning for our next (unlikely) 60 years together, we had no idea how intense that journey would be, nor that it would involve a marathon move spanning nearly three years.
It about did us in, but now that it’s behind us, I can finally recap what seemed to go on…and on…and on.
We lived in our modest country home for more than three decades. It’s where we raised our kids (with one bathroom) and it’s where we began our empty-nest years. With retirement on the horizon, I was ready for small-town living and Jim finally consented if – and only if – we found a house that suited me with a shop that suited him.
Well, that was a pretty tall order, so when we found one we snagged it with the blessing of a banker who gave us a whole year to make that move. Plenty of time – right? NOT! You see, we’d accumulated stuff for more than three decades! Remember? Creative financing was our new best friend however we owned three homes (I’ll explain later) for most of three years which is no fun.
First…you must be made aware of this fact. Jim doesn’t like change. He’s been a long-term, loyal employee of only a few employers during our 48+ year marriage. He stays put. He likes stability. He doesn’t like change and for a few years, that seemed to be a constant.
Even before our move began, he faced changes due to industry-wide layoffs. Jim had to go ‘on-the-road’ to Oklahoma (and later, to Texas) to even find work. We had to buy a small, used travel trailer for him to live in during the week (I guess that means we owned four homes – right?). I lived in here and there, continually moving things one load at a time and downsizing by myself. Not only that, I was dealing with real estate and banking issues by myself. Eeek!
We were blessed to buy a great little waterfront getaway about a decade earlier, but don’t be impressed by my well-crafted spin. It was only a 600-square-foot cabin on the edge of an abandoned sandpit in the middle of land-locked Kansas. But it was our corner of paradise. Much blood, sweat, and tears (and a lot of money) went into renovating #13 Timber Lane. We made many memories there with our family and friends but it didn’t fit into our future plans so after finishing a few projects, we listed it, moved a few things from there, then applied the proceeds to our very creative note. Our banker smiled. Whew! Now we owned only two homes (plus the travel trailer).
Neither of us was happy with this long-distance marriage. Thankfully Jim was usually close enough to drive home every Friday night and head south every Sunday afternoon, but weekends were so short. We had too little time and too many tasks. We would run errands, do his laundry and repack it for another week, and move a load or two from one house to the other, forty miles away. There were no relaxing weekends!
The physical act of moving is hard even when you’re young, strong, and energetic. Right? Well, add a few decades, minor aches and pains, and it’s much more difficult. Add to that the accumulated stuff that seemed to expand from every cabinet, drawer, room, or closet I opened. Stuff we hadn’t seen in years. Stuff we’d forgotten we had. Stuff we certainly didn’t need anymore. And, we had yet to even start in the attic, garage, or Jim’s 30′ x 90′ shop.
Suffice it to say this was an intense season of life!
At our new home, Jim decided the shop wasn’t big enough. So, we sold it, had it dismantled, then hired a contractor to build a bigger one with concrete floors. Much better, of course, but it added anxiety to the mix. Utility line spots. Dirt work. Property line spotting. Contractor calls. Building permits. OMGoodness, would it ever end?
Then our recently-divorced son (an on-the-road pipeline welder like his dad) moved back home but without a home! Our old home was mostly vacant, so he moved in there, but that meant we couldn’t list it until our son had a place to go.
Jim was still sorting through and packing things in his shop but his new shop wasn’t completed, so we had to rent a storage building and move things there. Another layer of this marathon move.
Jim continued to work out of state until layoffs hit there, too. Finally, he came home unemployed with the oil industry at a standstill; no pipeline construction for economic reasons. Basically, Jim went from back-to-back layoffs straight to Social Security. From unemployed to retired. Unfortunately, it was several paychecks before we anticipated.
As I reflect on those years, I’m happy to report we did survive, we are happily settled, and we’re still together. That MAY have been in question a time or two. Jim’s new shop is finished except for some finishing touches on the inside. We sold our country home to a young couple who is giving it much-needed TLC. And, we paid off the bridge loan! (Well, most of it. Remember, Jim retired earlier than expected.)
All in all, our marathon move was more time-consuming and complicated than we ever could have imagined, but as we close the door on that season of life, I am so thankful.
One thing is certain…our next move will be to a cemetery. No question!
Awwww…home sweet home!