Aging Well

Aging Well

Changing Your Story

Posted August 2, 2021 6:00 a.m. EDT

When deciding where to move when you downsize, it's important--especially for older adults moving here from far away--to examine the opportunities for building a new community.

Not long ago, in swapping a list of favorite books related to aging, our former minister of pastoral care, Judy Pidcock, recommended “Our Souls at Night,” by Kent Haruf. It is about a widow and widower who had lived next door to each other for their entire married lives, but did not know each other at all.

I immediately picked it up from Quail Ridge and also shipped a copy to my mom for her birthday without having read it. So I have to admit I was a bit surprised when in the first chapter, Addie knocks on Louis’ door and says, “I think I could sleep again if there were someone else in bed with me. Someone nice. The closeness of that. Talking in the night, in the dark. What do you think?”

I wondered what my mom would think.

It ends up we both loved the story, as did all the friends -- Anne, Liz, Marie Pier, Erin, Laura, and then Stacey—who I gave a copy to.

I loved it because it’s a story about changing one’s story at a point when far more of your life is behind you than in front of you. There is seemingly so little to anticipate and often too much to regret.

It’s funny because in the midst of reading this, my neighbor asked if my husband and I would have any interest in staying a night at one of the new 55+ communities, theOverture Crabtree. My husband and I are very close to meeting their entrance age requirement and while we laughed initially, the thought of a night away from our three teens, even if it was only a few miles away, sounded like heaven.

But what was truly both surprising and touching was seeing first-hand how quickly the residents--many relocated here from far away; a fair amount, like Addie and Louis in the novel, recently widowed; some who might never have imagined moving to a place like this—they have formed a new community. In a sense, they have changed their own stories.

There was an event at 4:30 on my second day there that brought many residents in the community out and at 7 pm, when I went out for dinner, I saw the group was still there: new friends in their sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties, still chattering away. Later, when I went down for a cup of tea, I ran into two couples carrying a monopoly game down in the elevator. I peeked back out to the back and more people had joined the large table, though it was well after 10 pm.

It's a good reminder that as we age, our need for friendships and relationships doesn't go dormant. If anything, now that we are less rushed with work and family and the busy-ness of life, we might need and crave community even more.

It brings to mind that quote by C.S. Lewis, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Is there something you can do today to change your story for the better?