After our four sons had grown and the last tuition bill was paid, my husband, Gene, and I took a winter vacation in Florida. We were having a marvelous time exploring, soaking up sun and visiting friends when our lives took an unexpected turn.
Gene had a heart attack. Fortunately, it was not a serious one, but it did leave him with physical limitations that became evident when we returned to our two-story home and spacious lawn in Bridgeton, N.J. Stunned, we were forced to admit for the first time that we were getting older and the maintenance of our home was becoming difficult. This did not sit well with us. We had never thought much about aging before and expected to live in our much-loved nest for the rest of our days.
We finally decided to be practical and plan for the future—something we rarely did. For the next three months we searched for a smaller home with less upkeep, in retirement communities closer to our family but many miles from our hometown.
Nothing suited us.
Then one day a longtime friend called to tell me about a ranch style house in a rural town only 15 minutes from Bridgeton. I was about to remind her that we intended to move away from the area, closer to family, when she added, “It sits on Silver Lake.”
That did it. I knew we had to see this house.
It was love at first sight. We cast all practical issues aside immediately. From the road we could see ducks and geese swimming on the lake behind the house and guessed other little creatures were hiding in the woods surrounding the property. When the front door opened, we caught sight of the lake from a huge picture window inside, and it was all over. Sold! Three months later we moved in and never looked back.
Much to our astonishment, the disruption to our life with Gene’s heart attack and the dreaded move actually brought us to a new life that we love, surrounded by nature and wildlife. We are getting older but have discovered that age does not necessarily mean we are out of the loop for new adventures.
The AARP Bulletin’s What I Really Know column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Terri Ely is a reader from Upper Deerfield, N.J.