“In this beloved residence the opportunity to make friends is there for the taking.”
Does that look familiar? Probably. Those are the words with which I started my last essay, but contrary opinions were expressed by some of my friends who found their entry to residential living difficult. Most of us are here of our own accord. Most of us have gone through the wrenching business of closing down a home, and deciding what to take and what to discard. Several, like me, have moved from one city to another. Despite our similarities, our reactions to the move are different. Why?
There are many reasons for having different reactions to moving to a seniors’ residence. We are a mixed bag of people. Many are from Vancouver and other parts of BC, but there are also some from the prairies, Quebec, and the Maritimes, and there are a few from Germany, Austria, Scotland, England, and other places: a multicultural people in a multicultural country. Different responses are inevitable.
I have an advantage over many who live here: years of learning how to move, at the drop of a hat, and be content wherever I landed. Dropping back many years, we reach the time when Sheldon, my husband, is a geophysicist. He works for a company which does exploration work, searching for new sources of oil. We move often—three times a year is not unusual—and with little warning. The head office makes the decision. We receive a call, and quickly and discreetly pack. Talking about where we last worked or are heading this time is discouraged. It is suspected that oil companies spy on one another. We are young and life is exciting, but sometimes difficult.
The two of us soon learn that the thing we miss most is being a part of a community: to know many of the people we meet, to have a church to go to, to call postman or the pharmacist by their first name, to get to know some town people well enough to become close friends. How will we do this with our unknown schedule?
We quickly develop our system. When the crew hits a new town they all are given a bit of time to help their families get settled. Sheldon and I first find a place to rent, then head downtown to the bank, stores, and post office. We introduce ourselves, give our address, set up a bank account. The first Sunday we go to church. After the service we meet the pastor, join as a member, and tell him how much per week we feel we can contribute.
Looking back from today’s vantage point, I realize that by handling our vagabond life this way, we always felt like one of the community, made some close friends and were “at home”, if only for a while. In every location there were always nice people, helpful people and people we could help in some way, people who became close friends, and a few folks we avoided. This approach never failed us, and helped us through the rest of our life together.
Now I am a happy and content member in a new home. Without a doubt my lifetime of moving taught me to be optimistic about the outcome. I have not been disappointed. The residential population here is as I expected. The new and much loved friends around me I cherish and enjoy, as one interesting day after another counts away my remaining years.