Senior house moving – stress -full or -free ?

by Terry Oliver on May 2, 2011

Selling your home is supposed to be one of the most stressful things you can do – right up there with getting a divorce or a death in the family. But what if you have all three together?

This past year has involved me in all of them and I’m starting to feel some side effects. For instance, I spend a lot of time going very purposefully from one room to another, intending to accomplish something from my growing to-do list. I begin to do the task, only to abandon it part way through because I think of another job that is even higher priority. I can spend whole mornings in this sort of waffling ineffectiveness. Eventually I abandon all pretence of doing anything and sit on the deck to drink coffee and revise my to-do list. Or more frequently, to decide instead on a power nap, to get me charged up for my next task.

We have a month to get rid of thirty years’ worth of accumulations. That works out to one year for each day left. I can see right now that my scattergun approach is not going to work. What I need is a really good plan. So, more coffee and back to the deck.

While my partner has been tackling the indoors, I’ve been assigned the basement and the whole of the outside – garage, sheds, garden, lawn and pond. For several chilly cold days, I shifted stuff around from one side of the basement to piles on the other side with no noticeable decrease in the total. But I did find all kinds of stuff I’d forgotten all about so naturally I had to take time out to evaluate what to do with it. Back to the deck and the coffeepot.

Today was a beautiful sunny one so I abandoned the basement and moved outdoors to tackle the garage. We had agreed that a garage sale would be a good idea but first I needed to clear enough space in it to haul out all the junk from the basement for the sale. As it happened, the whole floor was covered with leaves from the trees in the drive which I’d been raking into the garage to dry for mulch on the garden.

I needed the wheelbarrow to haul the leaves up to our deer-fenced deep beds. I found it where I’d left it last fall, up by the compost heap and the burn barrel. The wheelbarrow had a full load of stuff for burning from last year but I couldn’t do it then because of a high fire hazard last autumn. I shifted it all into the burn barrel and as it was nice and dry I thought I’d better burn it now in case it rained later. Of course there was a lot of other stuff lying about that needed burning too, so I was tied up there for quite awhile before it was safe to leave it and go and sit down on the deck to have a coffee break with my partner and discuss our joint progress.

It seemed she had discovered a whole cache of photos and papers from a project close to her heart from years ago. It took us quite awhile to look through it all and hear all her funny stories of those bygone days. In fact, it was lunch time and by the time we’d brought the food out to enjoy in the springย  sunshine it seemed a shame to head straight back to work. Especially as the sunloungers I’d rescued from the basement were so comfortable in the reclining position. We both agreed a short nap in the fresh air would be invigorating.

Personally, I always feel a cup of tea after a nap is what I need to get going again and my partner took hers back inside to continue her sifting and sorting. I stayed outside on the deck, drinking tea andย  deciding where to put the leaves in the garden. I wheeled them all up from the garage and spent a happy hour or two mulching the fruit bushes and weeding around the grape arbor.

While putting my trowel away in the greenhouse, I saw the lettuce plants I’d been meaning to set out as soon as the weather warmed up, as well as the mangetout peas which were overdue for sowing. By the time I’d finished all this the sun had sunk fairly low and the garden had become quite chilly. I retreated to the kitchen with some of the last of the Russian kale I’d also gathered and saw a note on the table reminding me it was my turn to cook dinner.

I got preparations underway and sorted out some snacks for happy hour. There was only a heel of red wine left so I went down to the basement to fetch up another bottle. The boxes I’d been saving to store the wine in, were in one of the piles I’d been moving about earlier today. I collected a bottle to take upstairs but stopped to fill up one of the empty boxes. Before long I’d managed to clear all the wine shelf and realised we had a lot more wine than I thought we had. I went out to the garage to collect a few more boxes to store it in and remembered what I’d originally set out to do – clear a space for the garage sale.

It was too late to think about that now, as I still had to light the fire and get dinner started. I still had the bottle of red wine in my hand, so I went straight into the kitchen for the corkscrew before I forgot. There was all the snacks I’d prepared – all I had to do was open the wine and take them out to the porch to join my partner for a nostalgic happy hour, gazing out at the view.

We talked about all the things we might do when we finally moved and added a few more items to the to-do list. At first, we felt rather discouraged at how little we’d managed today but after a glass or two of red wine, we perked up and decided to blitz on the packing after dinner. Which reminded me I still hadn’t cooked it.

Later, after dinner and another glass of wine – as we’re still celebrating the house sale – we both agreed that tomorrow would be soon enough to tackle more packing. We reminded each other about the risks involved for seniors in becoming over-stressed with house-moving and opted for an early bedtime, so we’d be fresh for tomorrow.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Camilla Morrow May 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I could picture this scenario perfectly, Terry – if it makes you feel any better, I am the world’s worst at dealing with accumulated stuff – just toss it in a closet, no? Anyhoo, best of luck with it – nothing like a deadline to make it happen ๐Ÿ™‚ And keep that coffee pot handy, and wine bottle uncorked ๐Ÿ™‚

sam oliver July 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm

so that’s where i get it from! a nice read dad, great job. it’s good to purge and it always seems to get done on time in the end…

Terry Oliver July 10, 2011 at 11:46 pm

You’re right, Sam – we did get it finished on time in the end. Took us a week to recover, though…

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