By Suzy Sharp, a founding member of Heartwood Commons Cohousing in Tulsa, OK
HOW CAN YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME?
When people learn I’m moving into cohousing, they often ask, “How can you leave your home? It’s so lovely and has so much character. And, you’ve made so many memories here.”
Yes, it’s true. I love my nearly 90 year old house in Florence Park, a mid-town neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’ve lived in it 30+ years. I grew up 2 blocks from where I now live. I sold Girl Scout cookies to every house in the neighborhood. I raised my daughter here.
And, it no longer serves my needs. It’s too big. I’m having to spend time and money on things (like the plumbing and HVAC – not to mention a new roof that I know is coming) that I don’t want to spend my time and money on anymore. The stairs at the front and back doors and to the basement where the laundry is will someday be a barrier to my independence.
The photo shows Suzy’s new community of cohousing neighbors gathered on her 90 year old front porch.
I so often hear others say, “I’m just not ready” and I wonder what will it take for them to be ready? Will it take a fall or a stroke? Will they be better able in 10 years to sort through all their belongings and decide what to keep and what to let go?
Having worked in the aging field most of my career, I’ve seen what happens when people don’t plan ahead, when they wait too long. Far too often I’ve seen them become a prisoner in their home. I’ve seen their quality of life deteriorate. I’ve seen them forced by a health crisis to make a quick decision to move leaving them with few options and less control.
So I’m choosing to create my future and I’m moving to cohousing. It offers the lifestyle I want and it will meet my needs so much better than the house I now live in.
In Heartwood Commons I’ll have a home that’s just the right size. I’ll have neighbors nearby, people who have already become my cohousing friends. We’ll share meals, learn from each other, engage in life together. They won’t take the place of my current friends and activities. It’s additive.
I’m excited about so many things: I’m excited to close my door and travel without worry. I’m excited to spend my time and my money the way I want and not dictated by the demands of an old house. I’m most excited to walk out my door and run into someone and share conversation over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
I’m excited to rid myself of stuff I no longer need. I’m actually looking forward to deciding what to take with me. Each item will be carefully chosen. Most everything will carry a memory with it.
I’m taking my cue from my Grandmother who raised me and who made a similar decision to move early in her retirement while she was able, physically, mentally, and emotionally, to make this kind of a change. Thank you Momma Dixie for showing me the way.
When it comes time to leave the home I love, I plan to honor the time I have spent within its walls and the life I have lived there. I will thank it for taking care of me and my family for so many years, and for the many wonderful memories created there. I will leave a note for the new family my house will protect and I will wish them many memory making moments and much happiness in their new home.
I will move into my new home in Heartwood Commons filled with all the memories I bring and excited anticipation for the memories I will make there.
After all, home is where my heart is.