“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.
14 Responses to The Lasting Effect of Experience
I admire your applying experiences from your early years to the difficult situation of changing so much in later years. To such a large extent, we live in our minds – positive thoughts often yield happiness.
Judith – When something works, it is natural to make a habit of repeating it. No two situations are identical, but the general procedure can be adapted to handling most anything. Perhaps it is the belief that develops that there is an answer to most anything, if you look. Nice to hear from you, Judith.
You have this wonderful ability to see through events to the core of what you can do to make things work. Resourceful and powerful, that’s you Marjorie.
Don’t push me too high, Eveline! There are many times when I am neither resourceful or powerful. The next time I mess up, I’ll try to think more clearly. But thanks so much for your kind words.
I’m not looking forward to our next move. In our early years, Joan and I were like you and Sheldon — we moved frequently, every two or three years, though not as suddenly as you did! ; After all, we were on our way up the ladder of success…. But as time passed, the moves became less frequent; we became more settled. Twenty-four years in one house in Toronto, now 23 years in our house in the Okanagan. I fear that the “new friends” we will have to make, when we do move, will never be more than acquaintances, fellow-travellers for a short time on the cruise ship of life before we have to part again….
Jim – it is not like you to be pessimistic, and I don’t like it. In addition, in my opinion you are wrong in some of the conclusions you have made. So far you have had a full and interesting life. The two of you have weathered some tragic family events, with strength and grace. You must have made and kept a score of friends over the years. When you reach your current age, the whiff of old age gets stronger, your long-time friends are dying one by one. The realization comes that your train of life has but one destination left.
At 94, my train is further along the tracks than yours. I cannot speak for anyone but myself, for we all lead different lives, with different strengths and weaknesses. But the lament that no longer can we make close friends (only acquaintances) is just not true. Living in a seniors’ residence, we all are old. I have many close, loving and fun-filled friends. From time to time one of them dies. Sorrow, not the grief an out-of-season death causes, is what follows. My friend – good times and experiences lie ahead. Enjoy.
Marjorie, my daughter works as a program director for seniors who come into the facility for the day. I’m sure she will love this post and will share it with her seniors, so I am sending it to her.
My husband and I made many moves the first one right after we got married to go to seminary, then to Belgium for language study, then to Congo where we spent many years in Bible translation work. Back in Canada we moved to Ontario where we lived the longest, before moving back to Winnipeg to be closer to family in our senior years. I think this last move was the most difficult adjustment because we are older and not as flexible. We are still in our own home, but are not sure how long that will be. Your post is encouraging and uplifting when we think about our future. Thank you for sharing, and keep up your positive outlook on life.
Elfrieda – Did I tell you that St. David’s United Church was the one Sheldon and I attended when we lived there, and Wayne Holst was a friend of ours. As for the possible move to a seniors’ residence could be in the future, don’t worry! You will enjoy it I’m sure.
Marjorie, thanks so much for the many memories that you have shared. George and I have made so many moves over our lifetime. Ottawa and condo living in the winter months and cottage and Newfoundland for four months in the summer is great at this time.
We realize that within six years we probably find it more difficult to have the months in Newfoundland but we are blessed to be near our sons.
You are certainly a wonderful role model.
We look forward to your words of wisdom.
Love and Prayers
Linda and George
Linda – This connection with old friends is a joy for me. Enjoy Newfoundland as long as you two are physically able to do so. As you know, it was one of Sheldon and my favorite places. Did you know that my daughter Isabel and her husband Ivan, live in Ottawa? You will know when it is wise to change your routine, but from my side of the fence, old age is an interesting segment of life that can often be a very good one. May it be so for you.
Wherever you land people around you always feel comfortable and know they have a new friend. So happy to have come to know you and love you.
Cynthia – So pleased to hear from you! I miss you. It is nice to know you are reading the blog. Thanks for telling me. Hopefully you will be back among us soon. Love.
Good morning Marjorie;
Thank you for another positive and hopeful view of life. From my mother, you and a few other friends God has blessed me with over the years I have good examples to follow. Look for the good and the hope in all things. God bless you every day. Norma
Nice to see your name, Norma. You were so young when I first met you, and now – a grandmother several times over. Thanks for expressing your appreciation of the blog. It is nice to know that you keep track of it. Love to all.