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Downsizing & Retiring the Right Way

Posted Sep 18 2013 9:00am

Caroline Casetti is a new homeowner, humanitarian, freelance writer, and an aspiring artist. While she typically writes about community involvement and ways to give back, she has taken the time to share her recent relocation experience and how downsizing can help bring families together.
It all kind of happened at the same time:  My husband, Frank, and I were in the middle of downsizing and were about to move from Texas to our first-ever home together in Decatur, GA.  It was 2012, and I was beyond excited.  And then we got a phone call from my mother-in-law.

My father-i n -law (who I refer to as dad) was 81 and had fallen and injured his hip.  My in-laws had a quaint little house up in New Jersey, and every morning dad would walk from his front porch to the mailbox with his golden retriever to get the morning paper.  Apparently the ice was pretty thick one winter morning and dad fell on his way to the driveway.  Frank and I were terrified; we couldn’t shake this helpless feeling because they were so far away. And then we thought, “Hey! We’re moving to Decatur, maybe we should move them too.” Wasting no time at all, we found a great little apartment complex for them only a few miles from our new home-to-be.

And so began the long, arduous process of downsizing not one, but two separate families!  Though we were all excited about living so close to each other, the move itself was a nightmare—we simply had too many things. While I was excited to move to a new city where our in-laws would be near us, I was not looking forward to packing up both my and my in-law’s stuff.

Frank and I immediately booked a flight to Jersey and a week later we were helping them sort through 50 years’ worth of love, life and memories into one small moving truck.  Saying it was hard to go through their basement filled with antique chairs and various photo albums of Frank as a blonde haired, blued eyed boy deciding what was and wasn’t worth keeping is an understatement:  It was brutal.  Dad was still in rehab at the hospital and mom was so overrun with grief that it was hard to motivate her.  I knew they wanted to move, it’s just that the process itself was so difficult.  We ended up storing a lot of their cherished belongings in a Storage Post facility, which really helped make the whole process easier.

The in-laws moved down here about a month after I first bounced the thought in my head.  Though the whole process was tough, it didn’t take long for them to settle in.  Dad in particular seemed to thrive in the warmer climate and I know mom is much happier being closer to us.  Before, the in-laws would call maybe once or twice a month, now we see them almost every other day. 

Fast forward a year and a half and we all couldn’t be happier.  In fact, I’m having the family over for dinner tomorrow night!  Now that he has more free time, Dad spends most of his time outdoors with a glass of sweet tea and a nice book.  He’s fully mobile again, and with this wonderful southern climate, worrying about the ice is (almost) a thing of the past.  I’m happy to announce how close we’ve grown this past year, and I can’t believe it took a potential catastrophe for me to realize just how dear family is.  Bringing them here, within a few minutes from us, was one of the best decisions Frank and I ever made. 

While downsizing and retiring can be an overwhelming process, finding the good in situations can make all the difference. It’s important to keep loved ones close at heart and near in proximity, and to realize that it’s never too late to reconnect with family.

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