This has been a most peculiar year for me full of good times and some creepy ones. My house dreams have shifted due to health concerns. This August I will be 68 years old and I still wonder about changes and ask myself "what if"?
Stairs. Stairs are no longer part of my home plan! I watch HGTV with all the young couples wanting that two story foyer with stairs leading up to a landing and the rest of the home. At my age I wouldn't, couldn't, do those stairs. I ask myself, too, why any young couple would want them. I can't image lugging a baby on your hip, wrapped in your arms, up that many stairs. I'd worry that there would be so many instances for accidents as the child aged. Of course, I don't have children, but I do have dogs. My dogs couldn't go up those stairs even if I could.
And those huge Victorian homes I tagged endlessly on Zillow. They are off my list. Three levels? I'd live on the first floor. My dream was a small town outside of Atlanta where I could feel more a part of a community. It didn't dawn on me that I had my own large community of friends close by my home. I was ripe for a change - any change.
What altered my dreams this year was a hip replacement surgery gone badly. Last year I had my left hip replaced and all went very smoothly. Except for the fact my right hip kept me in so much discomfort I still hobbled around. This April I decided to go for it and have the right hip replaced. It needed to be done and now the experience is somewhat behind me. I am on a walker doing physical therapy. Next week I hope to start driving again. My Chihuahua sleeps with me, but the other four dogs have to wait a few more weeks before joining us in the bedroom.
If you have read any of my posts over the years you know my dream has been to move. Don't ask me why - except I thought the final step in my widow healing was to have a clean slate. A new house - make that a new old house. With a bit of land for my dogs and maybe some chickens. Where I live now was named number 79 in the nation of great places to live. Development is everywhere. All the young folks are paying big bucks for houses that have been built with the old cottages have been torn down. Developers keep calling me asking if I want to sell. In fact, I had my house on the market twice in the last few years, only up for 30 days each time when I realized my hips would make a move impossible. I had offers but declined and took the listings down.
My surgery perhaps was the universe slowing me down. Making me think more about what I have. And a discovery on how many friends I have that stayed close to me during my bad days.
The hip replacement went well, or so the surgeon thought. That afternoon when the physical therapist tried to get me up I was in too much pain. An x-ray showed somehow the femur fractured after surgery. Two days later, I had another hip surgery and the femur was stabilized. I then went to a nursing home for rehab (lets not do those details) for almost thirty days. Friends came to see me daily which kept me from sinking into oblivion . . . the nursing care was so horrid. The physical therapists were excellent and got me on my feet, but the rest of the experience there . . . well, I thought about writing a cozy mystery where I got to kill off a nurse or two, all in good fun, but a way to deal with my lack of care.
Next, the surgery site became infected and I went back into the hospital for another surgery, two weeks on IV antibiotics, and physical therapy. Those folks were wonderful.
What was to be a two week process, including rehab, took almost seven weeks and three surgeries for me to get home. I've never been happier to see my house, my dogs, and my life back before my eyes.
I still think "what if" . . . but on a different level. My birthday in August will be a celebration of life, of gratitude, and of friendships. There will be a party on my patio. My pet sitter, who is my friend, and has her suite in my basement, although she is gone most nights with other pets, has a Pinterest board for my party. A farm table, lights in the trees, a bit of music. Perhaps this will be the house I love forever. Time will tell. My dreams now are of fixing this place up again. Painting the walls, getting the gardens in shape, and flipping some furniture to create a space that feels different, but is still the house that I shared with my husband, learned how to be independent when I was left alone, and a safe haven for my dogs.
"What if".... I concentrated on writing my new book. "What if" .... I started doing lectures and book signings. "What if" .... I could work in my garden again. And "What if" ... I just learned how to relax and enjoy my life without having to push so hard for changes. I always worry I should be doing more, be more, find my path on my own. I am rethinking everything now. Seven weeks away from home, worried my infection would never go away, my surgery site never heal, I had lots of time to wonder about the next phase of my life.
And "what if" my dream home is really a rambling ranch with a farmhouse feel and I am already living there? The Cottage In My Mind has been in front of me all along.