Written by Art Petrosemolo
When Tina and I moved to Garden Spot Village in 2016, one of our goals was not to have our son, or anyone, have to handle finding a place for us to live when we needed assisted living and to handle cleaning out our home and selling it. We wanted to do it ourselves and, like many of our Garden Spot friends, are happy we did. We have never looked back once we became the first residents of Sycamore Springs the day after Christmas in 2016, some four years and a lifetime ago.
I write this blog on the first day of 2021 from Cumberland, Rhode Island, just north of Providence and near the Massachusetts border. It is where Tina grew up. I met her when she was an undergraduate at the University of Rhode Island in 1969 and I was the young editor of their alumni magazine. Tina’s mom and dad worked in the skilled tool, dye, and jewelry industries in the state and had purchased a new home in Cumberland in a development called Meadowcrest in 1960. The two-bedroom, one-bath home with a finished basement on a corner, quarter-acre lot, probably cost less than the smallest Hyundai car does today.
Well some 60 years later, Tina’s widowed mom, at 96 and still driving, has decided she was ready to move into a retirement community. We had hoped she would have done so when we did the same in 2016 but when Tina took her to visit small RI communities then, she thought everyone there was too old. She was 92 at the time! What can I say?
So, what’s happening Art…. Get to the story.
Well, about a week before Christmas, Tina’s mom called her and said she was ready to move to a retirement community and could she be picked up that evening. Tina’s mom, Camilla, has all her mental faculties but just didn’t understand that moving to a new community isn’t like heading out to a hotel for the night.
Tina and I got Covid tests at the drive-through CVS in New Holland and headed off to Rhode Island December 20th and have been here ever since and probably through mid-January.
For many of our Garden Spot friends and colleagues, I know you are smiling when I tell you that closing down a house that has been lived in by one family for 60 years can be daunting. From fixing what needs to be fixed, finding the right contractors, and interviewing realtors to confirming the right retirement community, getting our hands around the money, and putting a plan in place, it’s a lot.
Tina and I split the responsibilities. She handled the money, the retirement home, and working with the lawyers to be sure all the legal paperwork, including durable power of attorney were set. She also did the online tours with her mother on the retirement community – Anchor Bay – that looked the best for her needs.
I spent the time interviewing realtors, selling her mom’s car, working with small contractors to update the electrical box (fuses) and confirming the septic/sewer requirements of the community. I also arranged for a young contractor who does “clean-outs” to take, sadly, most of the stuff including furniture – some of it mid-century modern I had written about for Lancaster Farming in 2020 – away. I also found a couple who does “clean-ups” in preparation for the house to be shown by the realtor.
The good news throughout this process is that the three realtors who were finalists on my list all said that because of the shortage of homes for sale in Northern Rhode Island, this home would sell for $300,000 + or – within 15 days (more than 15X the original investment). That was great news as combined with her other savings, I told Tina’s mom that she could live comfortably until 110. Not sure she got my humor.
Although I swore (not really) that we weren’t going to take anything back to PA from Tina’s childhood home, how could you pass-up a full, stand-up freezer, a nice chair and more toilet paper, Kleenex and paper towel to last until the rest of our lifetime and some of her dad’s antique tools. So, I got a pick-up truck from the dealer who bought Camilla’s car and loaded it up the week before New Year and left before dawn for New Holland some 350 miles away.
On the way, I stopped at a Providence charity that accepted clothing (only in black plastic bags with the Covid thing) and dropped off 29. When I returned to RI, two days later, Tina and her mom had an additional 20 bags ready for the same charity too.
So, about 12 days into this adventure, I know some of you are reliving similar experiences, with these words. I am happy to report we have our ducks in line and moving ahead swiftly every day. The fly in the ointment is the move-in date for Tina’s mom. It appears now that although her one-bedroom, ground floor apartment with a small patio is ready, she won’t be able to move until she and the community residents receive the Covid vaccine sometime before the middle of the month.
We’re here for the duration and although Rhode Island isn’t the Bahamas, I loved living here. We have headed to the South County beach area a few times and are eating our fill of oysters, clams, clam cakes, chowder and lobster. And to fill up some free time, I met (coincidence but I am sure not by accident) the owner of the largest Subaru dealership in the state and last week, we traded in Tina’s Subaru Outback (her 6th) for her 7th Outback… looks and drives the same but fortunately it is a different color. When Tina makes up her mind about a car (she has driven Subaru Outbacks since 1996), she makes up her mind.
So, we’re committed to finishing the job right here in the Ocean State and seeing her mother settled into her new home before we head back to Sycamore Springs sometime later this month.
Wishing all our Garden Spot friends a Happy New Year and, like you, happy that the end of the Covid thing is in sight and that things will slowly get back to normal at Garden Spot. Keep us in your prayers that we do this right for Tina’s mom. She deserves nothing less.