Making a friend out of change

Regardless of whether the word "change" is used as a noun or a verb, it means a variation or alteration in state, quality or essence; a passing from one form to another.

It can be a delightful word when the changes are positive, exciting and happily anticipated. It can be a frightening word when the changes are forced, due to tragedy, uncertainty or loss.

When we married 52 years ago, we had few material possessions. As the years progressed, we gained just a few more. Cross-country moves took us away from our wonderful childhood roots. Necessity quickly taught us to toughen up, become resilient and resourceful. Changes came fast and furious: moves, jobs, housing, income, children and many of life’s surprises. It seemed as though our lives were becoming a merry-go-round of transition.

Now we are in our 70s, and the coming years were looking good; a nice home in a charming Southern Oregon community and the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of those hard-working years. It snuck in quite subtly … an erosion of health, a tightening of the financial purse, rising costs of the essentials, and the frightening realization that we were quite vulnerable. The house and yard became harder to maintain. Our independence was just a breath away from being threatened.

Losses became more frequent, to us individually and to those around us. The losses came in many forms, all affecting the future, some even removing the possibility of a future. The changes in ourselves and to those around us did not go unnoticed. Soon, we were realizing that any serious change would be difficult to handle, and in some cases, devastating.

We started to think about the unthinkable. What would the remaining spouse do when their best friend was gone? How would the house and its contents be disposed of? What about the money? How could the remaining one not be left with a mess? Even if we weren’t faced with a death, how would we ever find the energy to dispose of the house and its contents in order to scale down? Where would we go?

The conclusion pointed to the following thoughts:

  • Make a change now

  • Make a change when it is still on our own terms

  • Make a change that would be liberating and not limiting

In 21 days, we sold our house (within 24 hours of being put on the market), bought a smaller starter-type home, packed, moved, and had an estate sale that sold two-thirds of our possessions.

With possession comes responsibility, and wearily we became fully aware of how much we had been responsible for ... that realization was overwhelming. One of our daughters said, “If you live through this, the change will be really good for you!”

Have all of the concerns about what is going to happen in the future gone away? No, but now, when some catastrophic change happens, there is less that has to change. We can face the tomorrows with more peace and freedom.

Change is inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be an enemy, try to make it a friend.

Betty Hagedorn lives in Medford.

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