Looking for a retirement home distracted our inner dismay at this disease invading our lives. We toured through 25 houses at Wilmot Creek, but no matter what house we looked at, Wally had already decided on his choice. It met his criteria for location . . . location . . . location, and it was perfect for Yogi and me, in his view.
The real estate agent finally showed us a home on the sixth hole of the Wilmot golf course that I liked, and it was already decorated to my taste. I could fit our furniture and it had a fireplace. The view was lovely, but not private. I presented my reasons for preferring this house to Wally. He listened and agreed but suggested perhaps we should look some more. He didn’t like the closeness of the neighboring houses, and he was concerned that golfers on the golf course would set off Yogi’s barking. So, we kept looking, but after every trip through Wilmot Creek, he would drive us by the house he wanted. A friend who knew the owners told Wally that they had taken the house off the market but were willing to sell privately if they got the right deal. Wally beamed, and I thought, “Shucks! I’m goobered.”
The friend arranged with the owners to show us the house. Inside it was filled with light from the west, but I saw problems with the configuration of the rooms. The location was ideal for a writer. The back of the bungalow sat overlooking a creek fringed with a canopy of willow trees. You could hear the peaceful gurgles of water skipping over the stones. It was a private sanctuary, and the property was wide enough that Yogi wouldn’t have to be tied on a leash to a tree or to the end of the porch.
As soon as we got home, I drew layouts of the house because my eye “knew” we could not fit our furniture, and it did not have the one thing I was determined we were going to have for our retirement home: a fireplace. Wally bided his time. He had decided what he was going to pay for it, while I thought of design and décor. We went through it three more times. Of course Wally could sell iceboxes to the Eskimos. His defense of the location was winning me over. When it reached the point where he was certain he could get the price he wanted, I began my negotiations. I wanted my fireplace, and since the room designated for my office was much smaller than what I already had, I would need new office furniture. Tick. Tick. And done.
We got the house under the conditions each of us wanted, and the only thing we had included in our thinking to accommodate his Parkinson’s was that it was all one-floor. We never measured a doorway. We did not consider whether either bathroom could be refitted for wheelchair accessibility. We never imagined what would happen if we had to switch to twin beds with a three-foot aisle between for a wheel chair. And worse, we never thought about the day when we would have to build a ramp for wheelchair accessibility into the house. The front of the house perched on a low hill that slid down to the street. You stepped down to the concrete floor of the front porch, which led to stone steps and a rock garden that curved down from the entrance to the driveway that continued slanting downhill.
If you’re thinking, “Were they crazy?” The answer is, “Yes.”
You are looking at a classic example of big-time denial. We were partners in love and partners in denial. And when we first moved into Wilmot Creek, we were happy. The air was fresh and clean. We slept like babies. I no longer suffered from sinus headaches. We went for walks along the bluffs. Yogi made friends with our resident mother fox. The nearness of the lake moderated the temperature in summer and winter. We didn’t experience extremes of heat and cold. In fact, we barely had snow. Our first Christmas was green. Except for the pills Wally had to take, we succeeded in forgetting Wally had Parkinson’s.
COOL HOUSEPLANS FOR WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBILITY