"Bob, we can't take that. It won't fit!" I had said for what seemed the hundredth time. He was sick of hearing it and I had been frustrated saying it. We'd been arguing like that for weeks: our nerves had frayed; my patience had completely unravelled. Neither of us had expected so much conflict. I was scheduled to retire in two months; Bob had retired a year before and had been waiting, not so patiently, for me to join him. We'd been looking forward to, and excited about, retiring: we had a clearly defined retirement plan and only one more hurdle to jump. We had sold the home we'd spent our entire married life in, and were in the process of downsizing by two thirds so we could simplify and de-stress our lives. The process of downsizing had only created more stress and distress than we could have imagined; we'd found ourselves completely unprepared for the emotional upheaval the process would create for us.
For years we'd planned to live the Canadian retiree's dream: we'd spend spring, summer and fall in Ontario, lock the doors in October, pack up the RV, and head for one of the warm southern Sates for the winter. With that in mind, we had bought a 1000 sq. ft. park model house in Wildwood Golf and RV Resort, a 55+ retirement community in McGregor, Ontario. Filled with seniors, the Resort offered a peaceful environment in a nature setting interrupted only by birds, bees and a few weekend campers. We'd been certain the lifestyle would suit us as we'd previously spent many summer weekends there in our RV. Most of the senior residents of the Resort were snowbirds who left their properties under the watchful eyes of the Resort's owners while they went south for the winter. How could we beat that for a simple, stress free retirement?
Some weeks later while sitting on the front deck of our house at 9 Wildwood Drive, the ugly memories of downsizing filled my thoughts. Somehow, we'd survived those angry weeks, held no grudges and had made it more or less unscathed into our retirement. Facing the golf course, our view featured the 14th tee, a water hazard, a walking trail just beyond the golf course, and off in the distance nothing but farmers' fields for as far as the eye could see. The manicured, lush green grass of the course spread out before us. Mature, leafy trees gave safe harbour to yellow finches, robins, orioles, and hummingbirds. If we sat perfectly still and silent, we could hear the thrum of the hummingbirds' wings as they hovered at the flowers' petals. The songbirds filled the air with their melodies; and in exchange, we hung and filled bird feeders in our front yard and around our garden flowers hoping to buy their loyalty.
With six weeks left before heading south for the winter, we maximized the time we spent on the front deck allowing our somewhat battered souls to take in their daily dose of soothing balm. We needed desperately to find that elusive place of de-stressed peace. It was a joy to hear the crunch, crunch, crunch of golf cart tires driving over the cart path to the reach the tee. Arriving at the tee box, golfers often greeted us with "wow, you have a great spot here", and as the day wore on, a steady progression of golfers provided us with hours of entertainment. As the setting sun ushered in the dusk, the trees' long shadows stretched across the golf course; the sun's angled rays sparkled off the water hazard and the great blue heron coasted silently through the sky dipping down to land at the water's edge. Standing motionless, only his long neck extended out over the water's edge as he keenly searched below the surface for his dinner. Off in the distance, golfers were playing a game of twilight golf.
Ahh, the silence, the serenity..... it felt like heaven. I reached over to Bob and nuzzled his face: "we made it. We got through that awful time, and made it to the pay off. We're going to be so happy here." Gazing lovingly into my eyes, and with a gentle smile, he reached out to hold me in his arms. The silence of the moment was pierced by a THWACK! - the sound of a golf club meeting the golf ball at its sweet spot - as a golfer teed off. The harsh, cracking splash of the golf ball breaking thru the glassy surface of the water followed, accompanied by the bellowing roar: ...... SH*T!
TWHACK....crack, splash/ SH*T!
Heaven at 9 Wildwood Drive