At the time Sharon and I finished writing our book together, my life was stable and I was content. My mom and I had been living together for almost eight years and had settled into a routine that worked well for us both. I had a job that worked for me, doctors that I liked and felt comfortable with, and friends who offered a steady social life. Unfortunately, while I was content, my mom was not.
Mom was in her sixties and still working part time at a stressful job. She really needed to retire. I had sensed for a long time that she was feeling like she was in a rut, and needed to make some changes. Mom was ready to move out of the home we had moved into in when I was a child, as keeping up with the landscaping maintenance on the large property and making the necessary repairs was becoming too much, even with my help. She wanted to move into a condo, so she wouldn’t have to worry about yard care and other home maintenance. We had been talking about this for several years, but never seriously starting looking for new places.
Five or six years ago, one of my mom’s friends re-connected with her via Facebook. My mom and Betty had been friends since my mom was nine years old. They had been close enough that Mom was a bridesmaid in Betty’s wedding. Life intervened, and they had lost touch until Betty found Mom on Facebook nearly fifty years later. Betty lives in Florida and after a couple years of communicating via phone calls and Facebook, my mom went to Florida to visit her in February 2015.
During this visit, Betty campaigned to have my mom move to Florida to live near her. Mom came back from that trip and started talking to me about that possibility. We talked about it, but at that time neither of us was ready to consider a huge move.
Mom had really loved the town in Florida where Betty lives, and immediately made plans to return for another visit in February 2016. Because she was thinking about moving there she really wanted me to see it, so I accompanied her on this trip. While we were there, Betty took us around town and showed us different neighborhoods that would be nice to live in.
I loved the area too, and it was great being in Florida in February. The weather was perfect, and we were able to go to the beach and lay out by the pool. When we returned from the trip my mom and I started talking about the possibility of actually moving there.
We discussed the pros and cons of moving to Florida ad nauseum. We talked about getting a condo in the town where we were living, close to family and friends. We talked about the fact that neither of us likes change, and moving to Florida would be a huge change. We made lists of the things we would have to do in order to move out of state, like get new doctors and arrange for long distance movers. Of course, whether we moved to a condo in our current town or to a place in Florida, there would also be the huge job of downsizing our belongings to move to a smaller home.
Even though it seemed like an overwhelming idea to move to a new town, a thousand miles away from loved ones, it was also exciting and energizing. Mitigating the fear about changing our lives so drastically was the assistance of Betty, who supported us and cheered us on through the whole process.
We were going to move out of our current house whether we moved to Florida or not. We discussed it over a period of several weeks. And we both kept remembering how nice it was to be in Florida in February. I don’t remember what made us both finally decide. Neither of us is very decisive. My mom made it very clear she would not move unless I was okay with it, as she was concerned about how I would manage the enormous stress involved. So, I guess I was the one who made the final decision.
It was completely out of character for me to want to move to Florida, given my discomfort with change. I wasn’t in a rut like my mom (or if I was, it was a good rut). I shouldn’t have needed to make a drastic change. I was a little worried, along with my mom, about remaining stable with the enormity of the change I had agreed to. I didn’t really know what to expect from myself. However, I have a streak of impulsivity that battles with my fear of change. I think back to my decision to go to college in Arizona as an 18 year old, which nobody could’ve predicted.
I have to be honest, and admit that my love of the sun and dislike of snow played a part in my decision. I was tired of Midwestern winters and loved the idea of laying in the sun year round. Of course, this is also the biggest reason why I shouldn’t have moved to Florida, given my propensity for skin cancer.
So, in March 2016 I called Sharon and asked if she would meet me for lunch. I had to tell her about my decision…