It’s been five months since my last post. Michelle and I have spent the intervening time – in addition to the seemingly endless task of putting our property back together – in a serious evaluation of our priorities and life choices. Several factors have been at the forefront of these deliberations:
Hurricane Ian made an indelible impact on the way we think about our lives. We are still recovering from the destruction and changes forced upon us by this natural disaster. We are aware that nothing is certain, and that life is short.
We lost an immense amount of money from the hurricane – having to pay an exorbitant tax bill because of our withdrawals from retirement (thanks, congress, for doing NOTHING to help victims out, unlike other natural disasters in the past like Irma, etc.). Despite that, we are not destitute and have made some conscious decisions to change how we live our lives.
Michelle’s younger sister Jennifer is fighting stage four cancer. Jennifer has been a primary element in our introspection. Her refusal to submit to despair and her courage to live her life has inspired both of us. Jennifer and her daughter Elizabeth came to visit us in early March. Despite her illness, she is determined to live her best life. We spent five days visiting Busch Gardens, swimming with manatees, playing in the Atlantic Ocean, visiting the devastation on Fort Myers Beach, and eating some great meals. We are fortunate to have such a great role model – even though she is younger than both of us.
I turn seventy years old in seventeen days. Paul Simon’s Old Friends line “How terribly strange to be seventy” keeps running through my head. The clock is ticking.
Michelle’s job, while personally very satisfying to her, has proven to be (much like my SDSMT position was) two jobs for the price of one and she has worked to the point of burnout. I recognize the symptoms, thanks to my own experience.
We have not, as we envisioned when we created this resort home, taken advantage of living here. The boat sits on the lift unused. The pool and spa do not see human visitors. The many beaches, historic sites, and fantastic restaurants are not visited on a regular basis in our convertible. We have become conscious that there will not always be a tomorrow.
So, we have resolved make some major changes in how we approach living. From this point, we will do whatever is possible to make each day special.
We have the means to do what we wish. Rather than being fearful of the future, we are going to spend money on important things.
On June 9th, we leave for Konstanz, Germany (meine zweite Heimat) to celebrate my seventieth birthday – twenty years after doing the same thing for my fiftieth birthday. Markus Utz and his ensemble cantissimo are presenting a concert on my birthday with some of the Heinrich Isaac editions that I created for them: über Grenzen… – ensemble cantissimo (ensemble-cantissimo.ch). I had expressed my desire to Michelle about visiting Konstanz again before much more time passed and when we learned about über Grenzen, Michelle said, “We have to go.” I responded that we could not afford it. She came right back at me and said, “What’s it worth”? Long story short, we’re going. Yeah, refundable tickets because of Jennifer’s situation, dog boarding, cat sitting, blah, blah, blah. We’re doing it anyway. No more putting off because of “what if …?” The best part? We can fly non-stop from Tampa to Zurich (love living here).
Shortly after that decision (less than five days later), Michelle left for Rapid City to visit her sister. Well, United Airlines screwed up the flights and she ended up back in Fort Myers after spending two days in Houston trying to get to Rapid City to see Jennifer. She flew home extremely upset. I made her a vodka tonic, and we went into the pool to float. I asked, “How important is it to see your sister?”. She realized that we were having the same discussion about Rapid City that we’d had about Konstanz earlier. So, out of the pool we went, booked a new flight to Rapid, and she left the next day for four nights.
Michelle has decided to step away from her position as a team leader at the Florida Civil Commitment Center. She needs down time rather than going from one tense situation to another. She is sad about leaving her position, but has realized that for the time being, this is what must happen. She will continue to work at FCCC part-time to facilitate two groups, so she will not give up all of it. She needs time to visit Rapid City whenever needed and is going again to Rapid City 1-5 June to see Jennifer. She has many opportunities to work in telehealth and can be licensed in states other than Florida and still work from home.
The last piece to getting our home back to normal was restoring my walk in shower and the tile surrounding Michelle’s freestanding tub. The original contractor had proven to be less than reliable or meticulous, so we went out to find a tile specialist. Best decision. BUT, as he assessed the job, he informed us that the shower had not been done well originally and so we decided to rip the whole thing out and start over. What the hell, just another dollar sign. But the results are amazing.
Pentatonix is coming to Tampa in August. We’re going. Bought the tickets. Next door neighbor is the general manager of the Marriot hotel downtown here in Fort Myers. He got us cheap(er) rooms at the Marriot Riverwalk in Tampa for two nights. No more putting things off. We’re going to live and love our lives here.
Best thing about all this is that we have neighbors who will take care of cats and house, and security cameras that record anything outside and inside.
- We love Florida, cannot envision living elsewhere. The current political issues unsettle us, but we hope the pendulum will change soon.
- The insurance money has all arrived. The settlements are fair. We lost a huge amount of money on the camper and pickup and our retirement funds have suffered because of it. We have sold the boat. OK, I know…. But we have enjoyed it for five years and the current situation is that we don’t use it. Why not let someone else enjoy it?
- My part-time job has little impact on our real life, but I am having fun at it. They seem to think that I am a good part of their team. It’s nice to be appreciated.
We are working to get back to who we are and why we came here. Stay tuned. As always, we are here if you wish to contact us. We welcome your calls, emails, and visits.