At times, Steve would get frustrated with me for not listening to and remembering lyrics to favorite tunes. He deeply felt the emotions expressed in the song’s words and struggled with understanding why I didn’t do the same. As a dancer for most of my life, I would always be drawn to the rhythm of a song, not so much to the words.
Ironically, now that I have lost my, flexibility, sense of rhythm and my once excellent balance (as such, I no longer take dance classes), I tend to look to the words in songs for inspiration. Some of the lyrics from two songs recently have come to my mind; “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John and “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty.
Yes, I am still moving forward and won’t give up.
In the past month, I have closed on my home in Wantagh and moved to a retirement community on the North Fork of Long Island. Along with the death of a spouse and having a personal illness, moving is considered to be a top life stressor. Nothing like being three for three. I am still reeling with the loss of Steve to suicide in 2015, the upheaval and turmoil of the two years leading up to his death, the ensuing aftermath and also with the diagnosis of having Parkinson’s Disease (PD) six months after Steve passed away.
My entire life has been lived within a five mile radius of where I grew up, causing me to question my decision for moving over seventy-five miles away from my roots and adding more stress to my life. Just the selling of the home I made with Steve for almost thirty years was hard enough, add to that the complexities of selling a house. As an example, the day before closing on the Wantagh home, the buyer’s attorney notified my attorney that the town had no Certificate of Occupancy on file for the house which could have jeopardized the sale. This, after two title searches from prior house sales and three building permits for the house were approved by the town over the years (house was built in 1935). I had already moved to my new home and it was not practically and financially attractive for me to have this closing fail. Luckily, I was able to work it out with the new buyers and we completed the sale. Of course, signing the legal paperwork to sell the home where I shared so many great memories with Steve, caused an emotional meltdown for me in the lawyer’s office; not unlike the daily emotional breakdowns I still have on a day to day basis, whenever I see something that reminds me of times spent with Steve, or when I experience something I wish I could share with him.
Although my neurological symptoms seem to be getting worse, I am still committed to halting or slowing the effects of this progressive disease through yoga, meditation, exercise, diet and supplements. Talk about a “chicken or the egg” scenario, stress is known to exacerbate PD symptoms. I did not think the supplements were helping, so I fell off track, using the high cost and move as excuses for not adhering to the strict protocol for following this alternative treatment. My symptoms have gotten worse since stopping the supplements so, I have tried to resume the protocol, only to get very sick at least once a day, which has been quite a disappointment, causing me to re-evaluate my treatment options.
Fast forward to my new home. It is truly beautiful and peaceful. (Peace in my life has been so elusive for the past few years). However, my observation thus far, is that most of the population here is at least ten to twenty years older than me, giving me pause to think that I will age quicker. Most of my life spent with Steve had me surrounded by younger, healthy and fit people (even Steve was seven years younger than me) which I always thought was so critical to leading a vibrant life. It is funny, when I first started my Information Technology career in 1973, for most of my working life, I was always one of the youngest in my office. It seems as though when I was in my fifties, that demographic changed and I started to be one of the older people among friends, co-workers and acquaintances. LOL, I have come full circle and now I am once again, one of the youngest when compared to the residents I have come across in my new community.
Music in public places and the food here are the most obvious generational differences I have seen since arriving at my new home. This realization brought back a funny memory I had with Steve when we went to visit my Mom in her assisted living facility in the months leading up to her passing in 2000. The residents, along with my Mom and Steve and I were all together listening to a piano player who would come in periodically to play the songs from my Mom’s generation; e.g.; Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc. I looked over at Steve and said to him, when we get to the point my Mom was in her life, we will be listening to cover bands playing Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. We both had a good chuckle over that one.
But, I don’t think my current neighbors will appreciate my wanting to blast Aerosmith or U2 in the public areas.
The other generational difference I notice is the food that is served. When I asked for whole wheat buns or whole wheat pasta, I felt I like I was perceived as having two heads. Most do not understand the concept of vegan or vegetarian. Many people think they are synonymous and some define vegetarian as not eating red meat.
Nonetheless, my decisions to move are sound and I still think I made the right choice. Although I struggle daily with accepting the inevitable (aging and infirmity), I do see a silver lining with the move to my new home. With age comes wisdom and it is what I have seen in many of the residents here. Living in the moment and expressing gratitude guides many of them. My hope is that their influence will inspire me to be more mindful, patient and to learn from their dignity. Acceptance of my situation and not inwardly battling what does and will come to pass will surely pave a peaceful road for me.
Please check out my website to find out more about Steve and his memoir; Slipped Away as well as the video I made to complement Slipped Away.