Moving my folks

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Caroline Boston

Dear Editor:

Regarding your column “Moving the folks,” here is my story.

Once the lease was signed authorizing me to move to a retirement community, I had one month to downsize from a two bedroom to a studio apartment. I immediately began to store newspapers, collect boxes and concentrate on movers.

Actually, I started downsizing shortly after my 60th birthday.  What I did was to stop adding to my possessions and only made purchases to replace something essential. As I began mapping out my plans, I was reminded of something a friend said to me when I expressed concern over the size of my new living quarters. She said, “You know space is not our problem, we simply have too many things.”

With this thought in mind I began to plan my strategy. The first step was to take inventory of my belongings and decide what my basic needs were: a bed, a comfortable chair, TV, DVD/CD player, an end table, area rugs, lamps, and pictures.

I also tried to refrain from placing sentimental value on too many things. This made it easier for me to let go. However, there were a few things I wished to remain in the family, such as my piano, china, an old sewing table, photo albums, the family bible, significant documents, a few gifts and mementos collected during my travels.

I could downsize my linens, curtains, and drapes because my studio had one large picture window with custom drapes, and space for one bed.  Dinner was included in my agreement, lunch was optional, and there were several affordable eating-places in the neighborhood. Therefore, I could dispose of most of my kitchen utensils because I would be doing far less cooking.

Then I studied my floor plan in order to determine where these pieces would go, and concluded that there was room for at least 3 or 4 more items of furniture. This may appear to be a lot, but it worked out fine. Actually, I’m often complimented on the way my space is arranged.

Next on my list of things to do was to go through books, and CD’s, most of which I had borrowed from my daughters and was now ready to return. I was able to fit my file cabinet and bookcase in the large walk-in closet for my favorite books and music. I also hoped my daughters would take some of the items I previously mentioned as wanting to keep in the family, which they did, but regrettably, neither of them had space for my piano. Fortunately my oldest and dearest friend’s daughter offered to buy it, so I felt as though it was still in the family.

Finally, I placed a sign in the lobby of my apartment building listing items I wished to sell and give away. I was successful in disposing of most of the remaining furniture and greatly reducing the number of smaller items. Anything left was donated or trashed.

I made the decision to downsize and move to a retirement community more than 10 years ago. It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I did not intend to spend my later years taking care of things. Taking care of myself and enjoying life are far more important. I now view the world as my living room and home the place where I return to seek rest and tranquility.

Caroline Boston, age 83

Washington, D.C.