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No longer wanting to do the work of two

I have spent the day working outside on my garden, the weeds have taken over in what has been a wet winter and I needed to spend a few days doing it so today has just started the job.  I am 69 now and starting to feel the age as I spent a lot of time pulling weeds this afternoon and can feel those muscles tightening up.  I love my home but can see the days in it are numbered now and by this time next year I need to have made a decision whether to sell and move.I know there are a lot of older women who live in their own homes and manage with a lot of outside help but this house was always meant to be a family home so it takes a couple of people to maintain it.

I was 12  years a caregiver and then my husband had a year in a nursing home before he died.  At first when I left work to look after him I took all of the extra work in my stride.  It felt a bit like retirement as I had been a worker for years and now it seemed easy enough to find time for everything.  Then as Ray needed more care I simply left things I couldn't fit in to someone else, as at that time we did have sons who would do a little extra for us.  Now our children have moved away and I am alone and a widow I find looking after the outside area a burden.  I can see why widows tend to sell up and go into retirement villages or Over 50s complexes where they pay for a handyman to do the chores and an amount to the corporate body to pay for lawns to be mowed, gutters to be cleaned etc. That is a practical idea but I am not sure I want to do that yet.

So this summer I will see if I can make some moves to make my life easier here, if not I will get the house ready to sell. I hate the idea as we always called this "The house that Ray built", and a lot of my memories of married life are tied up here as this is where I came to as a bride. We did live away from it for ten years but I have lived here now since the early 80s so there is no other place I call home. The ideal move would be to downsize and live somewhere within the local area so that I don't lose contact with those people I consider friends.  There are not so many of them now, neighborhoods change and now with so many young families living around me where both parents work or are busy away from the house all day those old fashioned neighbors who were my friends who I saw daily and felt a bond with have gone.

I am on the whole happy now with the way I spend my time, I have enough outlets to feel as if I am busy and useful and the time I spend alone is of value to me.  I do sometimes still have times when I feel quite lonely but I do have ways of dealing with that now. Coming up for four years as of the 19th September since Ray died and I feel as if I am coping fairly well. I do feel as if I live in my own house and live my own life.  Okay it is not the life I planned, certainly not the ideal life but I have only myself to blame if I do not make the changes to live my life the way I want to.  Laziness, apathy and procrastination have always lurked ready to trap me but I find a routine solves that problem.  If I have something I have to do, someone I need to meet, somewhere to go where people will rely on me to be there then I have a reason to get out of bed and get on with the day.  I realize I am slower than I used to be and that the ageing process will have some input into what I can do but that is irrelevant as what I do I do as a volunteer.

I also have the new man friend to try and fit in with.  I understand why widowed people hesitate to have a new partner or companion. It takes a real effort just to arrange to go out, where we will go, what we will do.  I have filled my life with busyness and he has his routine and somewhere in the gaps there is a chance for us to go out.  Wednesdays seem to be working but now we  have added Saturdays that is a bit of  problem. The lesson I am learning right now is not to be too busy for each other. I am loving the company and shared laughter. I think we are both hesitant about the relationship, he because he has a lot of ruined relationships behind him and me because I am new at this. I was married for 44 years and dating was very different back in those days. I haven't had much experience with dating in the last four years so am just taking it week by week.

The family do have calls on my time, I just spent a week with my son in Broken Hill and spent three of those days with his little daughter on an access visit so it was a lot of fun. It is a long way from here.  This time he drove down to pick up some of his stuff that he had left with me and we did the 13 1/2 drive back together, as usual I flew home. The drive to his place was a little scary once it got dark as on those long lonely roads heading west there is a lot of wildlife on the roads, feral goats and kangaroos being the main worries.  I do enjoy the life in that little city, it is so different from where I live in a crowded  urban area.  Of course I do feel the cold nights in winter but next trip I make out there it will be getting hot again.  Living on the edge of a desert in a semi wilderness area is so different from life on the coast and the change does me good. Next week I do an overnight stay with my daughter to see her daughter in her school concert which should be good. I do enjoy being included in any family event.

When I am considering making changes I realize there have been so many changes in my life over my 60+ years. I guess that applies to us that are in our senior years. And sometimes I make decisions easily and other times it is harder.  I would like to think that at my age what I do I do with some wisdom but it may not be so.  I am not rushing into anything right now, in fact I seem to be gently backing away from some of my outside activities, like the dementia groups and stroke recovery groups I belonged to with Ray. They are not really relevant to my current life although I have some great friendships which came out of those groups. How will this change my life?  Only time will tell.


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Comment by camsmom on September 13, 2016 at 2:17pm

Hi Sue,

I finally weeded in the backyard and cut some small branches hanging over the house. My husband planted a very small Magnolia tree last fall that we fenced in to keep the rabbits away- They stayed away but the weeds came- I got rid of those weeds too. It's hard doing so much around the house that my very handy husband used to do. I hired a landscaper to cut the lawn. I have one son who lives out-of-state. I'm so glad that I always told my husband how grateful I was having such a capable husband in a neighborhood of men who were not handy at all!

I don't know how long I'll stay in my house. It's only been 6 months so maybe in a couple of years-  Thanks for your blog-I enjoyed reading it.

Comment by Patience on September 12, 2016 at 6:56am
Sue, the part about the big house resonates with me for sure. The dating part... I'm still hesitant to try.. My older daughter still lives with me here our two big dogs that were my late husband's beloved hunting dogs and now they are devoted to me... So I have really mixed feelings on moving but it would be the intelligent thing to do. The yard work takes me so many hours and I do enjoy it sometimes. The flowers are beautiful and my husband had planted many perennials. So it was helpful to read your thoughts!

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