NOTE: THIS IS PART THREE OF A SERIES CHRONICLING THE LAST THREE YEARS OF OUR LIVES. Come on along as I wrap up this journey….our commuter marriage and our marathon move.

Finally, with no more loan extensions available, time was closing in. The stress was super intense. By then, our son had moved out, so I recleaned the house from top to bottom and restaged it.

Now we had the beds to load for the final leg of the move from the cabin to our retirement home – a two-part move, rather than just one.

Jim was still out of state and there were still more things to do outside, but we decided we had to list it and our property was an instant hot spot.

Who wouldn’t want a brick home on three acres in the country? A brick home with a new roof, new gable siding, window wraps, door wraps, and guttering, new hot water tank, fairly new furnace, and so much more. All of those things were great selling points.

We had showings before the ‘for sale’ sign even went up. Multiple showings day after day. Those who had eyes to see the potential were impressed. Those who couldn’t see past the ‘still-to-be-cleaned-up’ mess walked away.

I decided I would go see what I could do with Jim’s stuff. He hadn’t wanted me to do so, but it had to be done. I wasn’t going to tackle the shop, but I would the garage. I could organize what was unorganized, and put stuff in labeled boxes he could unpack later. I’m a good organizer, and he could sort through the labeled boxes later. It had to be done.

Afterward, I moved all remaining boxes from the house to the garage. It’d show better without our stuff throughout the house. Next, I tackled some of the outdoor issues. The yard was terribly overgrown but I had no mower. The fencing of an old dog pen needed to be torn down. Our dog had died years ago, and the weeds inside were as tall as me, with saplings growing through the wire. Saplings had overtaken much of the side yard, growing through tires and cattle panels and trailers filled with scrap steel. Limbs from a massive fallen tree needed to be cut and taken to the dump. Those are things I couldn’t do, and Jim was still in Texas.

Our daughter and son-in-law came to my rescue, thankfully, and met me there one weekend in the midst of the Covid quarantine. The next day, his parents joined us – eager to escape from their home, too, and enjoy some fresh air. Together, we pulled hundreds of saplings with the truck and a log chain, some as big around as 8”. We cut limbs and weeds.

We made ten trips to our neighbor’s burn pile, with a pickup bed overflowing, and filled cab-high. We picked up old tires, cattle panels, scrap iron, and more. The yard was mowed with a borrowed mower.

All in all, what was overwhelming – even to me – was made much more presentable thanks to our combined efforts. What a difference it made. The realtor agreed.

Not long after that, we accepted an offer. About the same time, Jim got laid off from his Texas job.

Now, with a firm and definite deadline – our closing date – my overwhelmed husband was more motivated to dig in to the overwhelming task of determining what to save, and what to pitch from his huge shop. We saw the light at the end of the tunnel. He worked harder than ever, day after day. We both did. We would haul load after load each day, and even enlisted the help of a friend to move some heavy things. Progress, at last.

Ten years ago, we went from owning one home to two (the cabin), then to three (our new-to-us home). Now we were going the opposite direction. We’d sold the cabin and now the country home. We were down to one, and believe me, one is all I need!

Nearly three years after we took that initial step of buying our retirement home, we closed on the sale of our country home of 35 years. With that closing we were unburdened.

I really don’t think I have any understanding of how great my stress level was during that time. I didn’t know how much I carried until I was free from it. The difference is amazing.

Jim’s new shop is finished except for interior finish work which Jim is doing as time and money allow. The rented storage shed (used during the move) is full but Jim’s slowly incorporating things into his new shop. The move itself is now 100% done – from the cabin, our country home, and Jim’s 30×90 shop.

And yes, he’s laid off again. Actually, he’s STILL laid off from that Texas job. It’s been good, though. He needed to be here.

We continue to make pre-retirement lemonade from the lemons of layoff. Jim’s been home for nearly four months; a precursor of what it’ll be like when he does retire.

Retirement truly is within reach as we’re close to being debt-free, which was part of our initial goal. Who knows, he may just pull the plug on a successful career, and consider it done.

The downsizing continues – both in the house and in the shop. Every day we find more stuff we don’t need – fodder for an upcoming ginormous garage sale. There are duplicates and triplicates of things as we integrate what we moved from the cabin and the house. There will be even more when the travel trailer returns home for the final time.

I’m still finding just ‘the right’ space for everything inside and working on our landscaping when it’s not too hot. Just today, I rearranged my office again, trying to make the best use of space, windows, and furniture. Jim’s working hard in both of his shops, getting them organized.

You may wonder why I’m just now writing about what lasted three years? Well, many opportunities presented themselves for me to share this crazy lifestyle while we were in the middle of it, but I didn’t want to draw attention to the fact I was living alone.

It’s been an interesting and intense journey filled with blood, sweat, and tears. A high-stress time in our lives. Living apart for so long has been no fun and moving after 30-some years in the same place is an unbelievably difficult feat; one which leads to the brink of insanity for seniors – or at least for this one!

Of one thing, we are both certain. Our next move will be to a nearby cemetery and someone else will have to do the moving.

We. Are. Done.

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