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Lessons Learned When We Moved

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

Picnic lunch in California

Picnic lunch in California

How Moving Effects Things

We live in a very mobile world these days. People move from one house to another, one city to another, one state to another, one country to another faster and more often than ever before. Sometimes it is hard to plant roots where you are because you just aren’t sure how long you will be there. For instance, I thought my husband and I had arrived where we could stay for perhaps the rest of our lives a decade ago, but when we both lost our jobs in 2009, we had to face moving again.

I’ve moved several times in my life and each time I learned something.

My watercolor cabin

My watercolor cabin

Time To Move

The Arkansas Traveler


Oh once upon a time in Arkansas
An old man sat in his little cabin door,
And fiddled at a tune that he liked to hear,
A jolly old tune that he played by ear.

It was raining hard but the fiddler didn't care
He sawed away at the popular air,
Though his roof-tree leaked like a waterfall
That didn't seem to bother that man at all

A traveler was riding by that day,
And stopped to hear him a-practicing away
The cabin was afloat and his feet were wet,
But still, the old man didn't seem to fret.

So the stranger said: "Now the way it seems to me,
You'd better mend your roof," said he.
But the old man said as he played away:
"I couldn't mend it now, it's a rainy day."

The traveler replied: "That's all quite true,
But this, I think, is the thing for you to do;
Get busy on a day that is fair and bright,
Then pitch the old roof till it's good and tight."

But the old man kept on a-playing at his reel,
And tapped the ground with his leathery heel:
"Get along," said he, "for you give me a pain;
My cabin never leaks when it doesn't rain."

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

— Walt Disney

My last winter in Indiana.

My last winter in Indiana.

Childlike Faith

When I was just 7 years old, my father was offered a job with his father-in-law and that marked the first move I can remember. In November, in the middle of my school year, we were all uprooted and moved to California from Indiana. I remember it took 3 days to get there and we spent the first few months living with my grandparents until we found a home of our own. I am sure that part of my father’s decision to move was based not just on financial reasons, but on the fact that he was tired of snow. I, however, was never tired of snow at that age, probably because I didn’t have to shovel any of it or drive through it. Still, that first year without snow struck me as very odd. By Christmas Eve, I looked out of the window and asked: “where is the snow.” My question was met with laughter and the promise that it doesn’t snow in California. With my childlike faith, I turned to God and asked for snow. The elders said it was the first snow in 25 years that they had known. I felt like it was the best Christmas present I could have received. I ran right out and built a snow/mudman. The snow wasn’t very deep and didn’t stay long, but it was snow. That year I was assured God answers prayers of faith.


I am grateful for all the moments that I have, and I'm moving forward one step at a time to the future.

— Park Bo-gum

Look Before Leaping

The next move I remember well was from the little rental house on the corner where we had lived since we moved to California, to a larger two-story home with plenty of bedrooms in the same town. Mom and Dad were very proud to own their own home and had saved for this for a long time. I was 13. I was especially interested in the attic. We had never had an attic before that I could remember. Apparently, the former owner had turned the attic into some sort of psychedelic pot-smoking room for friends and family. Mom assured me we were going to strip and paint the attic and all the rooms as soon as possible. It promised to be a place I could keep art supplies and perhaps sculpting supplies. While I was exploring the attic I discovered a loose board when I walked over it. This will never do. I pulled up the rug remnants that were there and found three two-foot boards just laying over a depression. I couldn’t think of what that was about. I pulled up the boards and looked over the depression thinking it would be better to have a dip in the floor than to have those loose boards. So I put one foot on it to see if it could hold me. It didn’t. On the first-floor hallway floor looking up, I discovered I had not only fallen a long way but I had left quite a hole that wasn’t there before. Apparently, it was only sheetrock covering the hole and nothing stronger. Oops. My dad wasn’t happy but was relieved that I had only sprained my ankle in the landing. He looked up and said, “I’ll put in the central air unit right there, I think.” He was going to have to patch that hole anyway. I learned to test the water before jumping in after that. Riding the piece of sheetrock to the first floor wasn’t so bad, it was the landing that hurt.

It's a long road, so we are just trying to stay focused and grounded and keep moving forward. I'll take it, though.

— Sturgill Simpson

My daughter cooking

My daughter cooking

Respect Fire

My next memorable move involved getting married and joining my husband in a little apartment across town from my parents. I was 19. A home of my own seemed like a very good thing at first, but I was not accustomed to renting. There are rules and restrictions that I had to learn along the way. Laundry was problematic. What was more problematic was learning to cook on a gas stove when I had always used electric. Young people today would not have to learn the way I did because of automatic pilot lights, but back then I didn’t have one. I had to turn on the gas, light a match and put my arm into the oven to light it. After the first few months, I felt sure that I had the hang of it. On this particular day I turned on the gas and got out a match, but it wouldn’t strike. After I struck it several times and finally broke it, I got out another match. It didn’t strike either. Finally, I got a match lit and stuck my arm into the oven. The loud “whoosh” knocked me onto my bum. It took several weeks for my eyebrows and the hair on my arm to grow back. Luckily I didn’t burn myself or my clothes, just my eyebrows. Trying to explain that when my husband came home wasn’t fun. That day, I learned a healthy respect for gas and gas ovens.

My father taught me not to overthink things, that nothing will ever be perfect, so just keep moving and do your best.

— Scott Eastwood

Me with my first daughter

Me with my first daughter

Final Thoughts

How many times have you moved? What did you learn along the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts.