Life's a Beach Part 1Jun 23, 2023 02:08PM ● By Jan Weeks
Editor’s note: Jan Weeks has been a dedicated BEACON contributor for over 13 years. Over the next few months, follow along as this widowed septuagenarian writes a three-part series about uprooting, navigating change and preparing for an even better next chapter.
Grand Junction has been home since 1959, punctuated by stints in west Texas, New Mexico, California and South Dakota. A lot of memories live here with me: friendships that lasted until high school graduation and some renewed years later, a marriage, some deaths, seasons survived and seasons celebrated.
And now I’m leaving, taking those memories, along with a few pieces of furniture, to my sister’s cottage in California.
I’ve lived in my house on the Redlands for 22 years, which is longer than I’ve lived anywhere in my 76 years. I’ve spent those years turning the third of an acre from a yard full of weeds and dead apple trees into a desert oasis of fruit trees, flower gardens and lawn dug and sown by hand.
The house has gone from man cave tan and brown to beach vibe white and blue. When I moved in, the master bedroom slider became an archway leading to an office/studio/sunroom that replaced the concrete slab disguised as a patio. Flowering borders now frame the concord grape arbor, and scruffy grass has given way to flower-edged patios. A scrofulous, inefficient garden shed morphed into a smaller yet more efficient place with plenty of shelves and natural light.
I’ve spent many golden hours watching the neighbor’s miniature longhorns graze, kicking back and sipping a cocktail as finches, doves, sparrows and occasional outliers fly in to feed before sunset. I watch dusk creep over June’s green, gold spin and fall in October’s wind, and blue shadows spread across January’s snow.
Now I’m leaving the home I made—the home I love.
Three things have brought me to this point.
My sister and I are both widows, and we play well together. She’s given me free rein to transform her much smaller lot, and I’m thrilled at the chance to create another piece of peace for us. She plods through a recipe, each teaspoon, every ounce measured to the nth degree, content to make the same few things over and over, anxiously tasting and timing each dish. I love to cook, and make meals by pinch, by palm, by the seat of my pants. What if I add a bit of this? A dash of that? Sharing a meal makes everything better.
The second issue has my docs’ knickers so twisted they’ll never make it to the bathroom in time. After being scanned, bled, tested and scolded, I decided to take a break from all things medical. If I drop dead, it’ll just be more convenient for everyone if I do it in my sister’s backyard instead of mine.
The final issue: I’m alone. I look 10 years ahead and see myself still sitting solo in my lovely but lonely home, watching Andy Griffith reruns and reading myself to sleep. I’ll make an occasional visit to the one art museum, taking in a movie where the only choice between the two theaters is upright or La-Z-Boy.
From my sister’s house, culture, theater and entertainment is only a ferry ride away. And the beach!
A thrill, but still—I’m leaving good friends, most of whom have families and work and busy schedules. All the furniture I lovingly bought just for my comfort will now be sold to others or donated to charity. The trees I planted as saplings will grow tall without me, the fountains will splash in someone else’s yard. All the transformative work I put into the house and yard will become someone else’s peaceful place.
So my heart breaks, but I know new and different experiences will stitch it up, even though I leave pieces here with friends, experiences and memories of the place I grew up.
Keep an eye out for part 2 in September’s BEACON.
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Follow along this widowed septuagenarian in her three-part series about uprooting, navigating change and preparing for an even better next chapter. Read More »