Resuming the conversation with Richard and Rachel
Resuming the conversation with Richard and Rachel…navigating the challenges of DownSizing and wrestling with the litany of age-old questions that come with it: the existential nature of change, fears about diminishment and the quest to find positive ways to turn down-sizing into right-sizing for the last third of life…
Tom: Rachel you mentioned you gained valuable insight from watching your own parents age.
Rachel: Yes, my folks retired at 65, almost to the day. They just turned the sign around and called it quits. They were so frugal they never took any of those trips they were going to take. Those weren’t “golden years” because my Dad wouldn’t spend a dime. He planned everything down to the dollar. I don’t think either of them really expected to live very long.
Richard: When Rachel’s Dad passed we tried to get her Mom into assisted living here. But she resisted until it just got harder over time. She was lonely for a lot of years and would have been much happier closer to us and other folks her own age. But she just kept saying: “I don’t want to go to one of those places – they’re full of old people!”
Rachel: We saw her when we could but she resisted even the smallest suggestion of moving. She was stuck. Then one day she slipped on a step and everything changed. Suddenly there weren’t any choices. We sold her house to cover her care and she never really recovered.
Richard: We’re not there yet. But we will be. We’re expecting to live longer and perspective was a parting gift each of our parents gave us – a vision of what growing into our 80s and beyond looks like. And the impetus to proactively choose how we want to live in the future.
Rachel: A huge part of this is about the human need to feel like we’re in control. Such an interesting thing. We spend so much of our lives working hard to control our environment. For a while it even seems like we might get there…
Richard: When we first started retirement planning, we had this notion about hunkering down in this house forever. We’d pay it off and settle into a cocoon-like existence in an unchanging world where everything was dialed in. Social Security. No mortgage and no surprises. Everything under control.
Rachel: Now, that feels like an illusion. You never really get to some kind of stasis point where you can settle in and know that nothing is ever going to change. Things are always going to change. We can either choose our change or we can let life choose it for us.
More tales of downsizing next week…