Lesson learned: Change can often bring about some very strong emotions – fear, anxiety, stress and reluctance – especially when the change is significant, like moving from one’s house of decades into a retirement community. Change can be quite frightening and traumatic when it means letting go of what is comfortable and known. Many times it is fear of the unknown that can be most crippling because one does not know what to expect from the new situation.
Thankfully for Madeline, a widow and former secretary to a school district superintendent, changing her residence of over thirty years did not seem as daunting a task as it typically is for others in similar situations. “You have to roll with the punches” she told me confidently with a slightly upturned grin and a wave of the hand that suggested “c’est la vie”. Not only was there a degree of acceptance, I also sensed an eagerness to learn and participate in something new. Change would, after all, also bring about some positive aspects. For one, it would eliminate her current isolation by including her in a community where she would soon meet individuals, with whom she could dine, socialize and recreate.
Shortly after my visit with Madeline, my colleague, Susan, shared the quote below with me. I immediately thought of Madeline and had to wonder if perhaps she, too, had been inspired by Edith Wharton’s writings.
“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”
-Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance