May 17, 2011

May 16, 2011

Since several people have wondered why I decided to leave my small town home where I'd lived for 35 years and move to a city skyscraper, I've been trying to come up with some answers. It's the little things that often lead to big changes. Mine was a throw rug. I'd noticed it needed some sticky reinforcement, but it didn't seem to be an immediate problem. So I'd put it off.

The major impetus was tripping on said rug, being thrown down on the slate floor, and finding I was unable to move my legs. After crawling for a painful hour to reach a phone to call 911, I had a lot of time to think over the accident, my preparations, and my situation. Some minuses, and some pluses. Shadows and sun.

When I was widowed, my friend Judy advised me to always carry my cell phone. I did, but it was unreachable, still in my purse on the kitchen island where I always set things down on coming home. Dropping things on a lower table would have been smarter: even better would be always keeping it in my pocket.

It was fortunate that my one reachable phone had the punch numbers in the earpiece—which was what tumbled down from my desk when I pulled the phone cord. The main phone part stayed in place. I was lucky I could reach the numbers. I suppose after a while an operator might have noticed the phone was off the hook, but I doubt it.

The emergency buttons you wear are one help source but I'd been told their range was limited. They are expensive, and I was already paying for a cell phone and a land line. It seemed a waste to get one if it would only work indoors—it never occurred to me that inside might be more dangerous than outside. The other reason was, of course, that getting one would acknowledge I was getting older. My vanity interfered with reality. It isn't only teens who think they're invincible!

As usual, I had locked the doors of the house after coming in for the evening. Knowing how easily I lose things, I had arranged two backup ways to get into the house using lock boxes and codes. I'd also chosen easy, not clever ones, so I remembered them and could tell the operator how the firemen and EMTs could get into the house without breaking down the door.

Once rescued, I had to face the fact I was more vulnerable than I'd thought. It was time to reassess living plans. Should I stay alone in my too-large house, which I loved, and find a companion to share it? Rent the downstairs half of the house? Move closer to one of my sons in either Portland or on the East coast? Move to a smaller house in a more populated neighborhood in town? An apartment? A condo? A retirement home or community? At least I had choices—some people don't—but none of the options seemed perfect. How did I want to live?

Next time I'll go over some of the reasons I made the choice I did. They're personal—others choose differently and it is right for them. One of the problems with life is that you often don't know about the perfect choice until you've chosen something else. As my friend Kathy said, life is a series of improvisations!