I can still remember my first apartment like it was yesterday. A cute one bedroom, two blocks from the beach, close to restaurants and bars and all of the essentials. My rent was next to nothing compared to these days. Having my first apartment, meant independence, I could do anything I damn well pleased! I loved living on my own, “my house, my rules”, I hosted parties, a few romantic dinners and coffee with the girls. To say my need to decorate or make improvements would be an understatement. I couldn’t wait to go home with my new “this” or “that”, hanging art or putting out a new soap dish found at the latest niche store. My magazine stack on interior design grew by the day, I would spend hours pouring over every detail, making notes of the latest trends. Too bad my paycheques didn’t grow at the same rate.
There would be several more apartments afterwards, these I would share with my then boyfriend. My passion for design continued, always needing to make things “just right” or “perfect,” “if only I had that thingy,” I could rest. That said, life was definitely simpler then, remembering a lot of fun times and bonding new friendships which I still have today.
I loved our first house, it was a character home in the city with newly refinished hardwood floors and lots of room for our family to grow. Money was tight, so I learned how to decorate on a budget, lol, ok, you got me! I wasn’t great with the budget, but I did know where to spend my money and where to save. I took an interest in gardening, learning the names of plants, which became another passion and extension of my love for design.
Five years later we sold our first house, it was one of the hardest moves. Leaving friends in the city and crossing two bridges, we landed in a small enclave near the beach, waving to our friends from the other side. This was the mother of all design projects, where to start was a huge decision. Aside from raising kids and the usual volunteering at the schools, being the family chauffeur etc. our new home became my canvas…
The garden became my obsession, deciding, it was cheaper than taking walls down and removing the roof from the house. I enlisted the help of a landscape designer, who became a close friend, love how that happens! Every year he helped me with another garden bed and finessing anything that didn’t work. This was definitely one of my happy places, hands in the dirt, picking weeds.
I met most of our neighbours while I was outside gardening, stopping to chat with me, commenting and admiring my hard work, lol, either that or they thought I was crazy! It was always a good distraction. As the years went by, these same neighbours became our closest friends, there were many celebrations in the garden that initially brought us together in the first place. I don’t miss the hard work, but I do miss the garden and the friends.
The reno, eventually happened, giving me the satisfaction of bringing my vision to fruition. It was a long haul, but it turned out exactly how I imagined, bittersweet in the end.
Tomorrow I move my 97-year-old mother to a senior home. I can’t imagine what might be going through her mind…actually, I can. It would be scary, but she’s putting up a strong front for which I admire her for. She’s slowed down considerably, age has caught up to her, and she knows it but not without a fight. New beginnings for her and I worry for how long. Random conversations about when she’s gone and heaven make me sad, but it is a reality some day. Packing her personal belongings for her new home…she needs less and less, putting more chachkas in the “to give” pile rather than the “take” pile. A lifetime, ending up in a box for charity. Even clothes are at a minimum, only taking what fits appropriately and not wanting to pack anything “fussy”. My mom isn’t interested in “just right” or “perfect” or that last “thingy” she needs to be less is more, packing her final box with a few doilies, a couple wooden spoons from her favourite uncle, a bible and a pincushion that she made years ago, save for one day. It occurs to me that she needs only those special things. The hardest part for me to observe is that she’s willingly giving up her independence, not completely but enough to make a statement.
She is moving on…