With the passing of another year, I strive to comprehend the incidents that have unfolded in the span of the past four years. In 2020, my late husband and I closed on our dream home in a gated community in Southeast Georgia. We enjoyed settling in to our new lives even with the challenges presented by caring for my elderly parents. In October of 2021, Rich passed, seven months later my oldest nephew, the son of my late sister left this world suddenly (he’d been like a son to me) and then my dad passed in April of this year. Through it all, I’d moved my parents to three different Assisted Living Facilities in three states in less than a year and a half.
A little over two years ago, Rich and I helped my parents sell our family home in Hackensack, New Jersey which entailed the exhausing clearing out of a home in which they’d lived for over 60 years just one year after Rich and I had done the same for our Jersey Shore home after 25 years. My mom had drawers of bank registers from the early 1970s to give you an idea of the depth of the word “clean out”.
After Rich passed, I tried to “renest”. I had the interior of our home painted and made some cosmetic improvements. I was settling in to a new reality. I kept busy with a new pup and tried to launch a new life without my husband making all those decisions I thought I’d never have to make alone. I had supportive friends and had moved my parents to a facility just 15 minutes from home so that helped, too.
But I began to think it might be nice to have a small vacation home down in Florida just to get away and to use as an occasional rental property. With coastal properties being so expensive and precarious with long Hurricane Seasons, I began to search for locations in the interior lake districts of the state, the Old Florida that has been often overlooked by many, filled with towns that are unheard of by most of my northern friends, now slowly being “discovered”.
One of the home listings intrigued me, but it was outside my budget and the photos did not present it well. But last July, shortly after attending Camp Widow in San Diego, I contacted the Listing Agent and made an appointment to look at some of the homes I’d seen online, including this one. Turns out, some of the real estate sites were using outdated photos so I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived to find it so stunningly beautiful. I ended up making an offer on the spot and closed on it just a few weeks later. After only making a few trips down here, I made the decision to rent my Georgia home to spend time here and to reroute my path, which of course entailed the cleaning out of a third home.
But it was clear to me that a change was needed. Here life is as different as can be from my HOA Gated community two hours north; now living at the end of a dirt road where HOA can stand for Hoot Owl Anthem. At any given time we’re serenaded by the sounds of owls, peacocks, roosters, Pileated Woodpeckers, hawks, eagles and the prehistoric clacking of a pair of Sandhill Cranes that feed along the banks of the lake in my front yard each morning.
I’ve enjoyed living in this rural setting. It’s been a bit of an adjustment, but it’s here that I plan to return to writing and eventually my art in the dawning of a new year. My mom is facing daily post-stroke challenges, and l’ll soon bundle up and venture to New York State to visit and then upon returning, begin a four week Non-Fiction Book Proposal course to reboot a Memoir project. Getting back on a writing schedule will help to further settle me.
Sometimes things don’t make sense, but often we need to step out of our comfort zone to gain a new perspective. I’ve learned to be more accepting of these events and changes. It’s time now to channel my energy more carefully (that still differs daily); to be inspired by the unique beauty of this area and to realize that my life-long waterfront location dream has come true despite the high personal cost. My only goal now is to make each day of the new year count. I hope the same for you, too.
A special shout out to Michele Neff Hernandez, co-founder of Soaring Spirits, International who celebrated a birthday this past week. Due to her mission and a wide and supportive network, many widowed people have found help and healing in the aftermath of this profound loss through the organization’s offerings and programs. It has been an honor to have been chosen to blog for them.
Here’s to renewal, restoration, revival and the much needed rest to thrive in the new season ahead. Every action matters; no matter how “small” a step. Remember, someone’s marathon victory is someone else’s simple walk around the block. Everyone has their own personal timeline and methods of returning to their New Normal in the wake of Widowhood and other life-changing loss.