Downsizing After 35 Years

5 Mar

It has been a wacky five weeks in my life, which has left me without the energy to write. But finally, I think I can articulate my mixed-up emotions. We are moving. Leaving the only house we ever owned. Leaving the house that we brought both our children home to. Leaving the neighborhood we have lived in for 35 years.

And it is my fault!

I told my husband several years ago that we needed a smaller home. We needed to be living on one level. That he needed to stop mowing the lawn, raking leaves and shoveling snow. It was part of my wise aging plan, we would chose! Last summer he acquiesced. In August I started the search for a reverse 1 1/2 story that had some maintenance free accommodations. At the end of a January I found the house.

Bringing my husband to see it when he was not feeling well might not have been fair as he lay on the floor of the empty great room and told me if I love it get it. But I took him at his word. Also he knew I had seen a multitude of homes before getting that feeling of home I felt in this one.

The house became ours on March 2. Before that was inspections, arrangements for buying, and me coming down with the flu even though I had the flu shot this year as always. The flu for me is always horrific! And this was the same. Five days of fever was followed by an unhappy asthma attack. I have basically been feeling ill for over three weeks. But a second round of steroids seems to have finally moved me forward from my malaise.

But all this has been happening as I started packing for the move while I, along with my husband and children began sorting through the shrines of this home and discarding pieces of the past. My son comes when he is not working to clean out his room and his stored items in the basement. He and his girlfriend are also searching to buy a home. They will take some of the furniture and items that are not moving to our new home.

What my current house looks like

My daughter, who lives overseas with her husband, surprised us on her birthday showing us her ticket home. She arrived two days later for 8 days of intensive sorting. She and I went through our immense library of books, taking just 40-45 boxes and leaving the rest behind.

My children and I went through the house with different color tape as we chose art work. I had first choice, but then they chose what they liked. My heart swelled as the amicably made their selections. I thought how happy I was to do this with them while I was alive and could see what they liked and how well they got along. That is a parents joy. And after cleaning out my parents’ homes after they died, I was determined to make it easier for my children!

At the same time, we were finding paint samples, running to plumbing stores and remodeling companies as we planned the updates in the new home. And I was still dealing with my asthma. I think I was in a state of suspended reality the entire time. She also packed up her entire room, while also ridding it of the residue of her 34 years. She came with three empty suitcases that flew back across the Atlantic and Mediterranean filled with pieces of her life. When she left, I felt a bit bereft, but thankful she came.

But finally this morning I woke up after sleeping an entire seven hours feeling like I could really breathe! Our new house has a swarm of workers busily updating. Yesterday nine people were painting, hammering, removing, and updating. And with the painters painting away, new hardwood floors are being installed, the electrician fixing all the issues, the plumber ready to come, the alarm company updating, the tree service and roofer and gardener all set up, I can relax. All I have left to do is to keep packing and sorting. I honestly cannot have an outside company pack. Downsizing means things have got to GO!

Pre work great room
Carpeting gone.
Floor going in.
You can see the new color off to the left!

However, I have to admit one more event probably eased my anxiety. I was supposed to go on a mission to Europe with a group. I did not fear getting ill, but the timing was so bad with the move less than a month away. And I would be gone a week as the remodeling continues. I woke up at 4 am each morning uneasy. Going through all that still needed to be done at home, while at the same time trying to get my work completed at my job. High anxiety on top of excitement. On top of trying to breathe. But yesterday the trip was postponed due to the Corona virus. It actually is a relief!

I am thankful for my friends and family who have pitched in to help! Our realtor, who has been in our lives for over 25 years, has gone beyond her role to help me in the remodeling. My walking artist buddy has Helped me chose colors. My son’s girlfriend, with her great mind for detail, was with me during the inspections. Offers of help to pack. Allowing me to put some of our extra trash in their garbage cans for pickup. Looking through things as I try to decide what to keep. And being there. My husband and I are blessed with family and friends.

Some give away stories. My daughter and I found a box of remnants from my son’s bar mitzvah. Kelly green visors with the word celebrate imprinted. We first thought trash. But then I thought friend. My walking buddy teaches catechism at her granddaughters’ school. Would they like 100 Kelly green visors for St Patrick’s Day. They are donated and at the school ready. And our 100 extra Kippur from our children’s b’nai mitzvot and friends’ life cycle events are at our synagogue in the kippa box where they are being used for services. Other items are also finding new homes. Sleeping bags we no longer use are going to the homeless through a friend’s church ministry. A Halloween ceramic plate is going to a friend who loves that holiday. And my daughter’s 25 year old Barbie camper is going to a friend so her two granddaughters can play with it. I love seeing our cherished items get a second life!

But most of all, for me, I am happy that I finally had the energy to write.

15 Responses to “Downsizing After 35 Years”

  1. Sherry March 5, 2020 at 8:34 am #

    Wonderful!! Packing. Lara is going on Barbie camper,25 years!! Thank you.

    • zicharon March 5, 2020 at 8:48 am #

      Thanks Sherry. It is difficult and a relief at the same time!

  2. Ellen Polsky March 5, 2020 at 4:04 pm #

    Ellen— Great sentiments! Excellent writing! I can’t wait to reach the point you are at now. Mazal tov! Wishing you many years of happiness in your new home. (And I hope you’re back to being 100% well).

    • zicharon March 5, 2020 at 4:29 pm #

      Thank you. Much better. This has been an experience. But I know that my next stage in life will be easier. And I am glad we are doing it when we are capable of making major decisions.

  3. Amy March 6, 2020 at 7:11 am #

    I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been ill. Stay away from the COVID-19. What a mess!

    Your new home looks just lovely. Best of luck with the move. We did the same ten years ago, and I tried to purge a lot of stuff when we did. But we have a huge basement, and I unfortunately kept too much anyway. Now it will be up to my kids to get rid of the rest of it someday!

    • zicharon March 6, 2020 at 7:21 am #

      We will be storing stuff for our daughter as she slowly moves it. And perhaps I am keeping too much. But I am also leaving a lot behind. I figure any amount of decrease is good.
      As for the flu, it is possible that I did have it. My husband had it first. And he does work at a hospital. So who knows.

      • Amy March 6, 2020 at 7:25 am #

        As long as you’re getting better. I guess it’s hard to know where this particular virus started, but it doesn’t appear to have been in the US that many weeks ago. Just glad you’re on the mend!

      • zicharon March 6, 2020 at 7:30 am #

        No one knows. It started in China in December they are now saying. And there were no tests for it, so they thought it was just flu. According to the doctor talk. It will spread. It can’t be stopped. But the media hype is horrible as it really is not that bad. The flu kills tens of thousands yearly. So relax.

      • Amy March 6, 2020 at 7:38 am #

        I am not at all in a panic mode. Just washing my hands so often that my skin is dry! But we are planning to go to Florida next week and hoping that all the others will have canceled and we will have a nice empty plane. 🙂

      • zicharon March 6, 2020 at 7:45 am #

        I agree! When my daughter flew back, so many had cancelled, she could upgrade to first class for a wonderfully low amount! It helps when you are traveling all day.

  4. Sharon March 6, 2020 at 8:00 am #

    Life’s changes and challenges ~ I’ve been watching a lot of those home renovation shows and the new flooring is very popular – and gorgeous! Wishing you and your family lots of happiness in your new home, more memory making and continues good health 🙂

    • zicharon March 6, 2020 at 8:03 am #

      Thank you. My husband teases me as I watched “Say yes to the dress” before showing with my daughter for her wedding gown. And I am obsessed with home remodeling shoes now. But I think they help you be aware of what is available!

      • Sharon March 6, 2020 at 8:12 am #

        So true! Have you watched Home Town? I really enjoy watching this one with all their idea’s and DYI idea’s or though I am not doing 🙂

      • zicharon March 6, 2020 at 8:13 am #

        It is my current favorite!

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