Downsizing is one of the hardest parts of moving to a smaller home. Harvey and I were at that stage of our lives where we didn’t have to go to work the next day and where we got to do all the things we’d never had time for. First, we needed to find the right home for this next stage of our lives. I think of aging as a “developmental stage.” Just as children, adolescents, middle aged people and adults, we elders have developmental tasks and adjustments to make if we’re to have a good life. Elders need to live life differently. It’s a mistake to continue as if we’re still in our earlier life stage.
Setting out to buy a house in Kingston, I had two criteria. The new house had to be close to our granddaughter and have room for my large family treasures. House after house within a radius of a mile or so from our younger members was considered with these criteria in mind. Most had rooms that were too small for my antiques.
A corner condominium apartment that looked out over the water filled the bill. It had a stunning view of the old stone shops in the town below. My grandmother’s intricately carved desk would look stunning in the front hall. The china cabinet would fit too. Even the massive breakfront could stand proudly in the separate dining room. Alas, Harvey couldn’t imagine himself living happily without a workshop and a yard to tend.
Here’s a passage from the memoir I’m writing.
At last, we found the house we both liked: the sleek, modern bungalow with its open concept living room, dining room and kitchen … and … no place for antiques.
I really wanted that house! It was coming down to a choice: family heirlooms or this modern, minimalist bungalow. Maybe it was time to pass the family treasures down to the next generations. Once the thought lodged in my brain it began to feel more and more right. Yes, I’d ask family members if they were interested.
Later I wrote:
Now that I’m stripped of heirlooms, it’s like a purge, a shedding of excess baggage. Or maybe it’s like losing twenty pounds. I want to simplify my life. I don’t want to use my limited energy to polish silver entrée dishes and bone-handled antique fish knives and forks. Anything that won’t go in the dishwasher gets passed on to younger women in the family. It’s their turn now. I’m just glad they’re interested. In the new very modern house I’ll be saving my energy for long walks with Sammy the Poodle and quiet hours of writing.
The Toronto house is ready to be put on the market. Half our furniture is in storage as I write this. The house looks very spacious. I’m developing a taste for the uncluttered life. Harvey, too, appreciates our new spaciousness. Just last night, he commented that he has far too much “stuff.” I’m coming to the same conclusion. Could I live in an uncluttered Zen zone? My thoughts turn to Kingston. That house has wide-open space: and yet, the whole of its open-concept living/dining/kitchen area is smaller than Harvey’s Toronto study.
Do you have a story to tell about downsizing? Please add your comments below.