Hey there, rock’n readers!
We have a treat this week! Wendy Lee Paquette, author of A Parade to Remember, has stopped in with this beautifully written essay about the next chapter of her life.
I feel it’s the writer in me that thinks of my life as different chapters. Each stage or major event dedicated to a caption like “The High School Years” or “The Divorce.”
And, now here I am at the end of “The 100% Single Mom” chapter. I’m proud to say, this chapter has a very happy ending with both my daughters having grown into independent, successful, young adults who’ve moved on to start their own new chapters in their lives.
Now where does this leave me? I find myself still single and residing in the family home. The same home I bought from Mr. X during our divorce. I made the decision to buy our home because I felt it was important to give some stability to our girls during a very turbulent chapter.
Although this home – the one I raised our girls in – gave us many happy years, it has simply become too much for a single woman to manage alone.
Mowing the lawn…
Raking and bagging a gazillion leaves…
Shovelling my way through winters…
Maintaining a large in-ground pool…
Now that my girls have flown the coop, I’ve lost my workforce, and everything has fallen on me.
Of course, my girls still come over to lend a helping hand as much as they can. But I ask myself, “is it selfish for me to want our time together to be spent doing more enjoyable activities like family game nights instead? After all, they each have their own homes to tend to.
So, what does this next chapter look like for me? Before the pandemic, I imagined moving only after I retired. This way I wouldn’t have to consider my daily commute to the office each day. I’d be free of that.
I’ve since changed positions and now my head office is in Toronto. I reside in Montreal. So, working from home has given me the freedom to allow myself to live almost wherever I want. Within reason, of course, and close enough to an airport to travel once a quarter to meet with my teams.
My general goal was to be close to my girls. They live an hour apart from one another, so somewhere in between them would be ideal. And, though my parents have both passed away, I look after a close friend who lives alone in the West Island of Montreal. I care for her as though she were my sibling.
One day this summer, after falling in my pool (there’s nothing more motivating than a cold-water scare), I made the decision and started my search to downsize. I Googled real estate in the area between my girls’ houses. It helps that they each bought their homes. It means they’re not going to move anytime soon. And, as they both live in rural areas, there’s not a big selection of condos, which isn’t really for me in this next chapter of my life. I like house living and have a big, beautiful, Doberman that I adopted and who needs space to stretch those long, horse-like legs of hers.
This means I’m looking for a house. But a small house that’s easy to maintain. I knew it would take some time, as most houses are built to accommodate a family. And, suddenly, I was somewhat grateful for that motivating pool scare because what I was looking for isn’t easy to find and would take some time. The earlier I started looking, the sooner I’d find what I was looking for.
Then I came across a small, adult-living community just over the Ontario-Quebec border in the county of South Glengarry. I’d never heard of “adult-living” before, but it really piqued my interest. Residents must be 18 years of age or older. And the location checked my box for wanting to reside between my girls and still be only 40 minutes from the West Island.
The community is private and when you purchase a home there, you pay a shared monthly maintenance fee, similar to a condo fee. This fee covers shared services to maintain the community, including snow removal, lawn care, pool and garden maintenance, a tennis court, and a community centre upkeep. It has access to a large boat marina and a canal system that leads out to the lake and St. Lawrence Seaway and where residents can dock a small boat.
As an active middle-aged woman, having access to all these amenities right in my small, quaint neighbourhood is ideal!
Finally, after months of watching for the right house to come on the market, I lucked out and bought the last lot of land in the community. My plan is to break ground next summer to build my own small, manageable home where I will live (and enjoy!) the next chapter of my life.
I’m calling it “The Adult Living” chapter.
Wendy Lee Paquette is the author of A Parade to Remember, a children’s book that honours Canadian veterans.