By Bruce Carlson

It began a little over a year ago. We had just celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary. As we looked ahead to our 50th anniversary we reflected on the 49 years of marriage and what the future would look like. A lot happened in those 49 years of marriage.

In 49 years, as a new couple had to figure out how to live together, pay the bills, and start a family, we have three sons. Job changes and moving to new locations. All the changes life throws at you over the years. I don’t think we have had many unusual happenings in our lives, just the everyday kind of stuff everyday people experience.

As we moved through last summer, we started to notice signs of our pushing into our later years. Doctor visits to check on joint replacements. My day job was changing into a full-time job. I had to be in the office from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. I haven’t had to do that for 12, 13 years. I’m getting too old for that kind of stuff.

The signs of change

Then in the fall, our 50th High School reunions came around. Actually, it was 52nd for me and 51st for Karen. Thank you, covid-19. As we walked into our reunions we found a list of names of classmates who had died over the 50 years. That was an eye-opener. Friends you had in high school are gone. No wonder we never heard from them.

Then more notes from family members about the health issues contemporaries were having. Wives of cousins having cancer. A cousin a few months older than Karen dying, he never saw 70. By the end of 2022, we could see “the handwriting was on the wall.”  If we wanted to move south toward Scott, the time was now.

There were so many things to consider in declaring our intention. How do you tell your family? What will be their reaction? When is the best time to say something? Shortly after the first of the year, we began to hint at our intentions. We didn’t go into big details but left small comments.

I went back and before in my mind about saying something to Justin, my director at the diocese, before or after the Philippines Mission. I finally decided to say something after returning from the Philippines. It was very hard not to say anything when I was in the office. I would catch myself going to say something and have to change my direction of comments to avoid saying something reviling.

rails, railway, railroad tracks

We talked with Scott and Nichole about moving. Our first question to them was, you are staying in the area and not moving when Scott retires from the Air Force? They said they were here for the long run. They started to send us listings of homes we could look at. We were set on a three-bedroom ranch near Scott and Nachole.

Just before I left for the Philippines, we contacted several realtors and had them come out to the house to see what we should do. When to put the house up for sale, what we should do to prepare the house, and what was the value of the house. There were a lot of things to do to make the house ready. I started painting the little fixer-uppers to get the best value.

Let’s move

It was clear we had to clear out the stuff in the house. We started looking at storage lockers. How big of a locker would we need? After a few visits to storage locker places, we decided on a 10 x 15 storage locker. Now the next challenge was to decide what to put in storage.

Since it was winter and cold, we didn’t want to put this that would freeze. Fortunately, there was no storage of things we could store. A quick trip over to the U-Haul store and we had boxes to pack. We learned a key point when packing boxes, don’t make them too heavy. It was effortless to fill boxes, but when you tried to lift the box, a trip to the chiropractor was in the future.

We thought we had gotten rid of stuff when we did our radon remediation several years ago, but the things we were moving into the storage locker were surprising. We kept coming across things that hadn’t seen the light of day since we moved into the house 22 years ago.

Crop faceless young male with wristwatch using adhesive tape while preparing cardboard box for transportation

Over the next couple of weeks, I would be taking one or sometimes two carloads over to the storage locker. Most everything was in boxes so we could stack things and get the most use of the space. I also put 2x4s on the storage locker floor. This helped to keep the moisture out of the boxes. I’ll use the 2x4s to make shelves at the new house.

In addition to moving boxes to the storage locker, we started to paint and make the house viewable based on our realtor’s request. We both struggled with removing pictures and painting the room to be more neutral. Why does everything have to be neutral? What’s wrong with curtains? Take the curtains down but leave the rods up?

Regardless of what we liked, the house was ready to go on the market by the end of February. It was weird to walk through the house and hear echoes. Maybe it’s the psychology of selling a house. You start to lose your connection to the house. By the time it sells, it’s not your house.

It’s not your house

We also learned about the new things used by realtors. Our house first went on the private market. Sort of a network between the realtors. It didn’t hit the MLS listings, but we were visible to the realtors so they knew we were coming on the market. People working with realtors were starting to hear about the house. Ready or not, here we come.

This is the first article of our story on first selling the house and moving to southern Illinois. It also signals the idea that retirement is coming. We’ll use this blog as our way of telling our story of moving and beginning retirement. We are still trying to definite what retirement is and what we will be doing in the months and years ahead.

man and woman sitting on bench in front of beach

Both Karen and I will be putting our thoughts in the blog as we are moving through the process. We hope you will follow our story and let us know what you think, or any questions you have for us.