FRED FIRST: Go West, Old Man!

I told a Floyd neighbor about our intended move. He could not imagine. “Why, I’ve never lived more than 7 miles from where I was born.” He is well and firmly placed. Soon, we will be displaced, but with a plan.

We decided this fall that our wonderful, comfortable, convenient and convivial existence here in Southwest Virginia in our 75th year could not be our final home.

This will be the biggest move of our lives by a long shot. But finally, after restless nights and anxious days, we have a date. We have a ticket. We have a destination.

Our son’s family lived for 10 years in Columbia, Missouri. We visited them there several times. This summer, they are heading from Tennessee back to CoMo where our daughter-in-law will take a faculty position at the University of Missouri; our son will continue his Knoxville work remotely for a year or more; and our grandson will turn 12.

Wife Ann has a sister who lives less than four hours south of Columbia. We have seen her every couple of years, since she has lived 1500 miles away. Now we hope to see her several times a year.

The notion to move half way across the country seemed absurd at first, but the more we considered the options, the less crazy it seemed.

I will continue to let you how it all evolves. If I am able, I will narrate the tale— until I can’t. Writing out the narrative of the journey here is helping me take small bites of the Show Me State Elephant.


Since the banner topic of this thread has been about health-and-housing retirement options, in the next post I will share the particulars of the Life Plan we have chosen and of the larger Columbia context that will be the stage for our new adventure.

Note that there are a number of “retirement communities” on the Columbia map that are NOT Life Plan Communities because they start with ASSISTED LIVING. And not all of them have Skilled Care or Memory Care as an option at the other end. So be aware of this distinction if you are searching for retirement options.

We have secured a 940 square foot Independent Living apartment. We requested one of the newer, larger apartments, but they would not be available for three years. There are more and more boomers lining up at the doors of such places, and we are fortunate to have secured a foot in this particular door in just a year.


We are told to expect to take possession in nine months– in November.

The timing, the logistics, the physical and emotional challenges, and the confluence of countless moving parts that will bring us intact and in place on the ground in CoMo in nine months–this puzzle will only show a shape and pattern when we look back on it. Nine months. Long enough to give birth to a new chapter of unknowable duration in days, months or years of our lives. Empty pages yet to be written. A new chapter. I have to hold that thought.


That all of this will work out “as planned” is not a slam-dunk. All it will take is a little sand in the gears.

At 76, sand happens.

There seems to be some confusion here as to direction of travel. Some of the horses have revolted and are heading back to the last river valley.

Meanwhile, the doors swing open for the Blue Light Special. Almost everything in the store here must go. Books, tools, gadgets, clothes, pictures, and boxes-of-contents in the house and the sheds must go: to the kids, to friends, to the local thrift store or the dumpsters. If you visit us here in the next few months, you will be asked to CHOOSE SOMETHING to take before we let you leave.

Two thirds to three-fourths of this STUFF will NOT go with us. It is a time to hold possessions with a light grip, I keep telling her. This means sacrificing precious things because we will have precious little room for THINGS. We are basically moving into a dorm room after living in homes of up to 4000 square feet. We have acquired some STUFF.

And I wake up every morning with the dread and the promise of this unknown future on a distant and unfamiliar shore. (Having never owned a boat, many of my metaphors for this adventure, for some reason, are nautical.)

The fog lifts; the winds freshen and shift to the west. It is time to prepare the life boats for boarding, and we will be, for months yet, still very much at sea.

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