Senior Living

The sun is out, the days are warmer, and suddenly I have this urge to start cleaning and getting rid of “stuff.”

I even start thinking it might be time to downsize; find a smaller place to live. Or even fit all my possessions into a Sprinter van (an upgrade from the Volkswagen van of half a century ago) and travel to new destinations full of excitement and possibilities! But when my head clears, and I realize downsizing is more a struggle than an adventure.

I have read about where to begin: Old technology (the three old laptops stored under my desk), stuff you’ll never use or wear (if it hasn’t been used in two years, it’s gone!), old hobbies (does anyone want a box of miscellaneous postage stamps?). And how to get rid of the stuff: Yard sales, non-profit thrift stores, unsuspecting friends?

But after raising two children in the same house with 35years of accumulated stuff, shrink-wrapped in memories, my biggest challenge is the emotional difficulty of downsizing.

What anyone else would consider junk ignores my emotional attachments: The broken folding chair my dad gave me before I left for college; the first board game I played with my children; picture notes I drew for my daughter to go with her school lunches.

When I look at those unusable objects, I experience feelings I have not felt in years. And I admit, I’m afraid if I toss those memory triggers, I will also be tossing those comforting memories — out of sight and out of mind — forever. And forever is a long, long time.

There are other reasons why downsizing is difficult for older adults, according to David Ekerdt, professor at the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas. You may feel what you give away will not be appreciated as much by someone else. Or downsizing may force you to face reality: Maybe you aren’t going to read all those books you have kept and you aren’t going to learn to play that electric guitar stored in the basement and tour the world with Mick Jagger. When you must make decisions about what is important to you, you are really defining who you are.

But after downsizing, most folks are glad they did. You are no longer a prisoner of your past and by deciding what you want to keep, as Professor Ekerdt states, “You are choosing what you are going to be and this can be very gratifying.”

And you may even find less stuff can mean more happiness.

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“Powerful Tools for Caregivers” is a six-week educational program designed to help unpaid family caregivers take care of themselves while caring for a spouse, family member, or friend. The class meets virtually by ZOOM from 10 a.m. to noon on Fridays beginning May 21. Class size is limited. The cost is $30 and scholarships are available. To register, contact Britta Willson at 541-387-6404 or brittany.willson@providence.org.

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The name of the kissing game popular among teens was spin the bottle. I received correct answers from Betsy Ayers, Louise Wooderson, Mary Pearce, Virginia Johnson, Barbara Cadwell, Lana Tepfer, Carl and Leslie Trabant, Linda Frizzell, Dave Lutgens, Margo Dameier, Gene Uczen, Kim Birge, Patty Burnet, Mike Yarnell, and Krista Thie this week’s winner of a free quilt raffle ticket. And somehow last week I missed Lana Tepfer.

In the ‘60s there were many supergroups such as Crosby, Stills and Nash and the short-lived Blind Faith. But it was not until 1985 when country music had its first supergroup, The Highwaymen.

For this week’s “Remember When” question who were the four artists (or at least two), known for their influence on outlaw country music, in this supergroup? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or send with the DVD of Stagecoach, the 1986 made-for-television remake of the 1939 film starring John Wayne.

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Well, it has been another week, trying to see the future in my rearview mirror. Until we meet again, wisdom often comes from keeping your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open.

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“Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.”

— Richard Bach

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Nutritious Home delivered meals and pick-ups for anyone over 60.

Hood River Valley Adult Center — Call 541-386-2060.

The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels — Call 541-298-8333.

The Sherman County Senior and Community Center — Call 541-565-3191 by 10:30 a.m. and leave a message with the number of meals needed and names of each person.

Klickitat County Senior Services — Goldendale office call the 509-773-3757 or the White Salmon office call 509-493-3068.

Skamania County Senior Services — Call 509-427-3990.

Seniors of Mosier Valley — Call 541-503-5660 or 541-980-1157 at least one day in advance to order a Grab-N-Go meal. Monday and Wednesdays from 11-11:30 a.m.