When I was a teenager, I learned to drive by practicing on my family’s Volkswagen Beetle, which had a stick shift. As anyone who has driven a car with a stick shift knows, when you don’t shift properly, the car only moves forward in a jerky series of starts and stops, and sometimes just stalls out. It was hard to get the knack of releasing the clutch and stepping on the gas in just the right way so that the car shifted smoothly into the next gear. I figured it out eventually, but are times in my life when I feel as if I’m still in that little car, struggling to shift gears in a way that doesn’t jerk me all over the road. This is one of those times.
A few weeks ago, we put my mother on a waiting list for a retirement community. It was time for her to have a smaller living space to manage and more opportunities for socialization and activities, while still remaining independent. The community she chose will provide all that, and once the decision had been made, we were eager to move ahead. Unfortunately, we were told it could be a year before an apartment actually became available, so I reluctantly “shifted gears” and resigned myself to a long wait. I even decided that the waiting was a good thing, since it would give Mom plenty of time to figure out what she wanted to take with her and to distribute the stuff she no longer needed.
Last week, I was organizing my paperwork when I noticed that I hadn’t put my cell phone number on the retirement community’s contact sheet. I called the housing director to let her know, and after listening to me ramble a while, she said, “So I’m guessing you didn’t get my message yesterday? The one that said the apartment you looked at is available now?”
I was stunned. The apartment we looked at was bright and airy, had an extra closet, and a balcony that overlooked the garden. We all loved it, but were told that balcony apartments could take as much as two years to get, so Mom knew that the apartment she was going to get most likely wouldn’t have the balcony or extra closet. And yet that exact apartment was now available immediately. Mom was thrilled, and so were we, but it meant “changing gears” again as we prepare for a move in the very near future.
The last post I wrote about my mom’s upcoming move to a retirement home was all about patience, which is an area where I come up just a tad short. And patience truly is a virtue that I’m working hard to acquire. But sometimes life calls for other strengths, such as the ability to “go with the flow,” to move quickly when needed, and to seize an opportunity when it comes our way.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever learn to “shift gears” to adapt to the changes in my life nearly as well as I learned to shift gears in an actual car, but that’s okay. I may be moving forward in a series of starts and stops, but I still get where I need to be. And that’s all that really matters anyway…..