I hate goodbyes.
Last month’s column portrayed the difficulty of tossing or giving away items that no longer bring me joy. I’m still working on that.
Today, the most difficult challenge for me is saying goodbye to people who bring me joy — you, my readers, are among them.
Last month, my husband, Paul, and I, received notice that our selected cottage — located in Asbury Solomons, a retirement community in southern Maryland — had suddenly become available.
Frankly, it was a bit of a shock. We had been on a waiting list, expecting our list of requirements to take forever — if ever — to materialize. And when it happened, a year later, we asked ourselves, “Are we really going to do this?”
Considering many of the things that most retirees think about, such as, “Aren’t we a tad young for this next step?” (wishful thinking); “Are we really going to take advantage of most of the amenities?” (Paul will definitely join the golf group;) and “How will we adjust to a space that’s a fraction of our current home?” (That’s a difficult one.)
Still, the pros are the reason that retirement communities exist. Food plans provide breakfast, lunch and dinner — no need to cook if you don’t want to; all maintenance on the exterior of cottages and the landscaping is provided; a wide range of activities is available and — most importantly — our health care is taken care of as we age. All of this enables an easy lifestyle, full of opportunities to live a new adventure.
The move is, also, all about family. Since our daughter, Kelly, is the executive director of Asbury Solomons, living only five minutes away from there, but 2 ½ hours from Westminster, our move seems to be a win-win situation. Our son, Paul, and his wife, Tammy, live in D.C. which may be a tad closer than the 1 ½-hour ride that it takes for them to get to our present home.
So, here we are, having lived several years in Baltimore County and city; 26 years in Howard County; 6 years in North Carolina; 17 years in Carroll County; and ready (almost) to move again and to start another adventure.
As they say, “All good things must come to an end,” but I’m finding this ending to be bittersweet, especially since I’ll no longer be writing for the Carroll County Times.
I introduced myself to you, 11 years ago, when I wrote my first column about spring, the hazards of an early frost and new beginnings. It was published in Carroll Seniors, a former section of the Carroll County Times.
It’s been fun getting to know you. I’ve written several feature articles, in addition to my column, and have concentrated on senior Carroll countians who have done some amazing things.
In an August, 2012 issue of Carroll Seniors, I wrote about adventurers who broke the myths about limitations of people over a certain age. These men and women were skydiving, horseback riding, ballooning, cycling and kayaking. I completed that article full of hope and enthusiasm to embark on a similar quest; I never did, being the faint of heart person that I am.
And it was interesting , six years ago, to talk to 90-year-old Earvin Ruddick, a Westminster cabinet maker who helped put the salvaged White House moldings back together again in 1951 — part of a three-year renovation, directed by President Harry S. Truman — after a piano leg had burst through a ceiling in the executive mansion. His craftmanship was evident in the very chair he was sitting on.
Four years ago, it was enlightening to interview David and Diana Berry who founded a much-needed program — Dads Works, in Westminster — that provides guidance and support to adult fathers. Later, Diana had planned to lead a similar program — Moms Works — for mothers. David’s words were prosaic: “Any man can be a father; it takes work to be a great dad.”
Over the years, I’ve had some feedback from you — the most I received was about the REAL ID compliant driver’s license I had written about in March of last year.
I wrote about my frustration with trying to renew my license under the Real ID Act of 2005. Without a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or for non-drivers, an ID card, we wouldn’t be able to board commercial planes or enter federal buildings. (The deadline is October 1 of this year.)
After describing several circumstances that I experienced in order to obtain my license, I received several inquiries regarding the new procedures and, hopefully, I was helpful.
Sometimes I’m asked if I have a favorite column. The first one that comes to mind was published in April of last year about my 16-year-old friend who didn’t like to read.
“I don’t like to read books,” she said. “I’d rather watch videos and movies on my phone.”
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A transformation, however, developed when an ASL teacher and a no-funny-business English teacher, from Westminster High School, each assigned their class a book to read that students could choose. With the help of the school media person, the teen chose each of her books, gradually becoming engaged, respectively in the stories, and even exclaiming, at one point, “I love this book; it’s like watching a movie.”
With fond memories I’ve accrued over the years, I’m ready to make more.
As Paul and I declutter 17 years' worth of “collectibles,” trying not to look at photos that I can’t bear to toss, and thinking about “simplifying” our smaller domain, I’ve come to realize that tossing treasured “things” has been a lot easier than I imagined. Saying goodbye to friends is as hard as it’s always been.
With a stiff upper lip, I’ll remind myself of the reasons we’re leaving. I look forward to living in a marine community, enjoying family, and developing new interests. I might even follow the path of the senior adventurers — doing something I never thought about doing before. Maybe it’ll be kayaking. I could even begin the novel that’s within me.
Like my flowers, I just might bloom where I’m planted.
I wish you, my readers, the same. Thank you for your faithful readership; I’ll truly miss you.
Dolly Merritt writes from Westminster. Her Prime column has appeared on the third Sunday of the month. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.