“Grandma, Why Are You Moving”?

By now some of you know my husband Bill and I are closing on our New Hope, PA home mid-September and embarking on our lives of Tucson as home base, with travel and rental apartments about 40% of the year.

This weekend was the last one for our granddaughters to swim in our pool and spend wonderful time in the PA countryside. It has been one of their “vacation spots” since they were born – we have lived here 15 years and they are 6 and 9. There was no life before New Hope for them.


New Hope, PA

And so, as we tried to explain all the “grown up reasons” for moving and “downsizing” they looked a little confused – but as always full of fun and laughter and wanting to believe that things in the future may not include New Hope, but will ALWAYS include Grandma Patty and Poppy. Or at least that is the message now. We hope our own demise is far off so we skipped the mortality talk. Thought that the end of their grandparents’ house was more than enough loss for a 6 and 9 year old.

Being a grandmother keeps me on my good behavior. I want to model “loss with grace” for my granddaughters as well as show clients that of course change is often good. How can I call myself a life coach and not do well with a major move? “Attachment is overrated” and “all is in divine order” are the messages for me to send. But there is a piece of my heart that is feeling sad about all the change and working to put it all in perspective – that wonderful gift of older ages.

Simultaneously with the move I have been reading the new Jane Smiley trilogy – almost finished Some Luck and going to start Early Warning by Thursday I would guess. The third in the trilogy will be out in October just as we are going back west after a bit of a transition in the east using a furnished apartment to say more goodbyes and touch base with people.

Next in my queue

Next in my queue

Like the John Updike Rabbit Angstrom novels, there were 4, this new trilogy gets into enormous details of people’s lives – but does that in the context of 20th century American history and culture. I was of course much younger reading the Rabbit series – I read the first one, Rabbit, Run, in the late 60s (it was published when I was 10). I followed Rabbit’s life when I read Rabbit Redux in 1971 as a new college graduate. I didn’t “get it all” in terms of the perspective thing.


By the time I read Rabbit is Rich I was 30 and rather amused by the Toyota dealership – and then 40 when Rabbit finally died in the 1990 novel Rabbit at Rest. The character of Rabbit was morally ambivalent and not a little “disappointing” as a man – let’s just say he aged a bit badly.

Now reading Smiley’s take on America I am both older and wiser. Her perspective is helping me realize how our lives evolve much like these terrific series of novels – with a series of experiences and opportunities – some of which we handle terrifically well and a few we don’t. All the while living our lives in the larger context of what is going on nationally – and now even more often – internationally.

Grandma is moving because she has to move forward or rot a bit. And rotting is not fabulous – we all have to move on and move forward to avoid getting caught empty handed or confused spiritually in the next phase of our life. I am finding that it isn’t just about throwing things out or physically moving but rather about shifting attitudes and feelings to combat the often disturbing trends of history and the limits and losses of just living longer in a complex and baffling society.

Didn’t mean to get sad – but sad is something we now understand and accept. Being sad once in awhile is a wonderful thing. Now that’s called having perspective – too bad it took so long to arrive.