Okay, I managed to fit two of suggested topics for July into this blog. I’m going to mention freedom first. Retirement means freedom. Hubs and I did without a lot of things during our working lives to make sure we had enough money for retirement. Three permanent layoffs just about depleted our savings each time. It was fortuitous that we were able to recover. Sort of. Thank goodness for pensions and 401k’s and a financial planner who worked miracles during the recession.
When we had to move from West Michigan to Chicago for Hubs’ job, I made him promise we would retire back there. Since he likes the area, too, he agreed. Another job took us to mid-Michigan—close but no cigar. Then our grandchildren arrived. Good news/bad news. They lived in Indianapolis. Nothing was keeping us in Michigan. It wasn’t the Lake Michigan shoreline, but grandchildren mean more than location. So I started looking online at houses. Hubs was not as eager to uproot.
Then Fortune shined on us. The grandchildren (their parents, too) moved to West Michigan. Wow. My dream come true. Hubs kept thinking about all we had to do to make our current home saleable. Optimistic me started looking for houses online again. Ultimately—after many 200-mile trips for dance recitals, Christmas Pageants, babysitting, etc.—he came around. A year ago, we started looking at houses with a realtor. Okay, I thought, we can be picky this time—not try to find a house over a weekend, as had been my previous modus operandi. We took our time. And maybe we were being too picky. If you’ve ever watched House Hunters on HGTV, you know there are always compromises whether finding an existing house or building a new one.
After ten months of looking at houses where we would have to make changes, remodels, all the stuff we’d done six times before, we decided to build. Everybody has heard horror stories of construction nightmares. We mentioned to the banker an oft-repeated saying of adding 20% to the cost of construction. She looked surprised. Not Mike, she said. That was a nice surprise. When she asked our projected move-in date, we repeated the builder’s estimate of six months from ground-breaking. When she shook her head, we figured she’d say good luck with that. Instead, she said he always finishes sooner. Plan on five months. Yeah right, we thought.
Right now we are three months from ground-breaking and the builder is telling us we could be in at the beginning of September. The rooms have drywall up, the furnace and all the electrical are in. Not all the plumbing, but the tub and shower are in. As is the driveway and garage floor. Tomorrow we pick out paint colors, carpet, kitchen counters and backsplash. While the siding isn’t on yet, we've been told that’s a one-day job. I’m totally amazed at how much is done each week when we drive over to check. Hubs takes his measuring tape each visit to check measurements against the plans. One day, he took the 3-year-old grandson to hold his tape. The kid was thrilled to help Papa. Granddaughter, who had been miffed at missing out, was mollified last Thursday to be the first one in the house.
While I’m excited at moving in early, I’m not thrilled about packing up a house where we’ve lived over thirteen years—our longest. Deciding what goes with us and what to discard gives me nightmares. Almost. What I keep in the forefront of my mind is that in, maybe, two months we’ll be close to our family.
Through a fortuitous event, son-in-law’s new position brought the family to West Michigan where we wanted to retire. How fortunate for us that we have the freedom to do so.