Over the years, I’ve encouraged people I met with that if they are going to have to move, the sooner they do it the better off they will be. Well, as true as that may be, I couldn’t appreciate the depths of what it means to move when you are older until I did it myself.
The house I left was my home for nearly 30 years. It is where I raised my daughter. It is where I grew to manhood and became a mature, responsible adult. There, I faced my demons and grabbed the brass ring of success in business. But the grand house was becoming too much for my wife and me. That wonderful, spacious Victorian wanted a family, and we needed a smaller, less-demanding house. It was time for a more aging-appropriate place to live.
The house Kelly and I moved to is only 70 years old and much smaller. I have two-dozen pictures there isn’t room to hang. It is a more aging-appropriate house and the quiet, private setting is very peaceful. It is a more central hub for driving around the state in my business. On top of that, we love the community we have moved to. Barre City is a wonderful place with friendly people, a good hospital and an excellent downtown.
All good stuff, but I miss my daughter so much more here than in the old house. The rooms I watched her grow up in are now filled with another family and are beyond my reach. Somehow, the old house consoled and comforted me. I could walk down the upstairs hall and recall when I put the birch tree up and built walks for the cats.
Do I miss the old place? Yes, of course I do. It is more than just the house, too. In the village everyone knew me and I knew them. In Barre, people are amazingly friendly. Everyone says hello and smiles as they pass by. But before, I knew the people, their children, and even their parents.
Do I wish I were back in the old place? Absolutely not! Moving was the right thing to do. It was the right time and I have come to the right place for the next part of our lives. The move was physically harder than I imagined. All those boxes to be packed and then unpacked! Postponing that to face later would have been a mistake.
Over my life I’ve left a lot of people and places behind. But only once have I left the place I made a family and raised a child. The taproot there ran deep. In its own way, that is good too, for as I miss and I remember and revisit so many things, they aren’t rooted in a house but held deeply in my heart.
Aging in Place doesn’t happen by accident and it doesn’t always happen in one place, either.
Scott Funk is Vermont’s leading Aging in Place advocate. Access previous Aging in Place columns at scottfunk.org.