On my own

I am writing this after reading Ronni’s Rethinking Living Arrangements at Time Goes By and Naomi’s Housing Ourselves in Late Life at A Little Red Hen

Walking with a stick

Me, one day?

I moved into my new flat some twelve years ago, and it took me forever to get to do it, as I had lived in the same flat ever since I was four.
When I moved in, I thought, and I may even have said this to several of my friends

When I move out of here, it’ll be in my coffin.

In French, we have a colourful expression, les pieds devants, (feet first) to express it.

I have lived in this flat with my daughter and now I live here by myself. And I have to say that I love it this way. I just do not enjoy living with other people any more. When I go on holiday with a friend, it’s all right because we both know that it’s for a short time. But I think that I am now too set in my ways to be able to do otherwise.
Understand me, when my husband was still alive, –and when I was younger–, I enjoyed the sharing, the companionship, the conversations. But it’s all part of the past and I am just too selfish to envisage a flat mate, even though it would mean sharing duties as well as sharing the space.

May avenue Emile Zola

From my window

I may be be too young an elder to envisage a time when I will think differently, but at the moment, as I wrote in a comment at Naomi’s,

I can consider death with no qualms but moving out of my beloved flat is just something that, I feel, would kill me.
Maybe I’ll change my mind, and I do admire people who make different decisions. It might also have to do with the sort of assisted living conditions you see people in… In this country, I see those places as the antechamber to the cemetery. So I’d rather keep to my own flat as an antechamber 😉

I fancy the idea of dying here in my sleep and going to lie forever, next to my husband, or maybe it is above him? 😉 at Cimetière Montmartre, being watched over by the cats there.

Cimetière Montmartre cats

I don’t mind being watched over by cats when I’m dead

I do realize it might just be that I am not ready to consider being assisted yet, probably too young and too healthy, but I’d rather jump the hurdles as they come along and see what happens. I am also aware that I am privileged to own my flat and to have a retirement allowance that lets me live more than decently. At least at the moment, since we can’t know what lies ahead. But I feel that I have seen really bad times, what with being widowed at 48 and having breast cancer, and just point blank refuse to worry about more trouble coming my way. I’ll face up to it when it happens, as I have always done.


20 thoughts on “On my own

  1. I’m with you Claude. I have become used to my own company and I am settled into my own patterns (or lack thereof). Come spring, I I’m going to look for an different apartment and I hope I can find one where I can stay a longggg time.

  2. BRAVO!! as i said before, if we all lived in france in a gracious apartment, we’d never want to move, either.

    my mother stayed in her apartment until the last week of her life, when she entered the hospital to die. i hope to be able to do the same. my dad was even luckier….he went into the bedroom after watching the news, got into his PJs, knelt to say his prayers, got into bed, and died. just like that.

    we have a saying like that over here, too: “they’ll have to take me out feet first!!”

    katherine graham, the pubisher of the washington post, died a couple of years ago at a conference in colorado–fell and hit her head. gone. she was 83 and still on the job. they brought her body back to DC and buried her in the cemetery across the street from her home. for years, she used to be able to look out her windows every day and see her final resting place. i find that really moving. she never had to deny death to live her full life. buddhism tells us to seek that state where death cannot follow: the state of being awake. that’s why i love blogs like this….with photos of present moments. the watchful cats are an image of the soul awake…

  3. I hope and pray that we all get to live in our homes until the very end. I have never lived alone ever in my life. I have always had somebody there. If it happens that I am here at Whitelees by myself, I think I will survive just fine and in the end, quite like it.

    I too have said they’ll have to take me out of this place “feet first”.

    I love your window. It is a perfect “picture of the city”!

  4. Ma Chère Claude,

    Yes I know how you feel. I’ve lived most of my young adult, and adult life alone, living with walls, and moquettes, windows and balconies. Its such a blessing to be on your own – my mother moved in just after dad passed-on, and now we’re moving again – I hope the home she finds is the one she’ll live there for a very very long time. I dread the idea of moving unless I move out of the country, and back to Paris, for good.

    Your pictures reminds me of life.. and the more I see pictures of Paris, the more I long to head for home, even if it means moving to Versaille where I used to live for almost 2 years. The energies that we absorb throughout our lives is one of the reasons as to why we’re where we were, and are.

    I guess, even if I retire later in life and return to France, it will be for a reason – most likely to sleep forever LOL. I just dread moving – the packing, the unpacking.. the dusting and all.


  5. I agree, mostly. We live in a house way too big for us now, although it was perfect when our 3 kids lived here too. We need to move to something smaller and more manageable, but even contemplating that is hard and the thought of doing it is overwhelming. I fear we will be here until one of us dies, while the house gets rundown and less clean, as we get to the point of not being able to care for it properly. It’s a puzzle. We’re not ready for assisted living, but we’re clearly not able to care for this one as we ought.

  6. P.S.: Even though we are basically Gypsies, I wouldn’t mind a place of our own, we can call home. One day we will have it and I wouldn’t mind living there on my own until they can carry me out, if that was to happen that way.
    Montmartre? Mh, I won’t be burried on a cemetary, but that would be one I sure wouldn’t mind. 😀

  7. thanks for the insight. i like reading your blog and other elderblogger’s.
    i cant wait to be one.
    growing old gracefully.

    i don’t mind being alone too. I was alone from 16 to 29 years old. I live with my husband now.

  8. Feel quite humble that my thoughts played a role in stimulating this post. It is beautifully written and illustrated and you deserve to live the future you envision.

  9. Claude, I agree also, although I do have long-term care insurance — but my policy covers in-home care, so I am still hoping that if I need care, I can find someone to come in.
    It is wonderful that you now have a place that YOU created — I feel like that about my house (even though I still have mortgage payments to make) since I made an addition to it. I have a lot of my mom’s furniture but it feels like mine since it is all put together in my own way. Sharing would be tough, even if I were to meet someone. I would have to love him an awful lot!
    We are just going to hope and pray that all this exercise keeps us fit to the end, and that the end comes quickly when it’s time. Eartha Kitt is very inspiring — Kay’s been blogging her videos lately and talk about well-preserved! Let’s all go for it!

  10. Jane Jacobs died at 89 earlier this year. Her last book was published when she was 85. I hope I can do that, write and publish till the end… if I even get started I might just have my first publication by that time. I’ve enjoyed your blog, always, and feel the “JJ spirit” alive and well here.

  11. I can’t imagine that you’ve only lived in two places after age 4. I have lost count of the moves I’ve made, although I was in Texas for 12 years and in Oklahoma for 27. But even in those places, I lived in varied homes.

    So I guess that I might be more open to moving. But I’d like not to think about it now. Except. One main thing. With all these moves, my mother keeps asking where I will be, when I’m no longer living. I don’t have the answer to that, either.

    Really, this isn’t a comforting thing.

  12. I, too, prefer to live alone and find my little home to be of great comfort. I find it best to live “one day at a time” and to face the tough times as they come. I’ve always loved Woody Allen’s comment about death… “I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

  13. I certainly understand your feelings and attitude, Claude, especially at your young age. Yes, you’re still young.

    I still embrace the idea of living in place in my old age which is what I’m currently doing. I do see advantages to being in smaller quarters but I would still prefer to live alone. My living with someone (other than my husband) lost its appeal when in my youth I went to college and roomed with a high school friend I admired. She was so inconsiderate, always taking over my space and was not amenable to adjusting. I hated to embarrass her by moving out, but finally I had to. I realized the truth of the adage that you never really know someone until you live with them.

    A couple of extra rooms in my present house would allow me to have a live-in arrangement in which I could rent a room and/or provide one to someone should I need care in years to come. The idea of permanently sharing living quarters in either instance just isn’t that attractive to me, but I never say never.

    I do not presently welcome living in a retirement community or any other unit of all older people such as myself. I prefer the stimulating interaction with individuals of all ages.

    On the other hand, I do seriously find smaller living quarters an inviting option offering less responsibility than the upkeep of a house, but will have to adjust my thinking and compromise to make that happen. I keep an open mind and am prepared to consider any eventuality.

  14. I meant to add this, as if I hadn’t already written enough here. I don’t have to worry about my remains since I plan to be cremated. I expect to have my ashes distributed over the spectacular scenic area where we spread my husbands, or if that’s not possible to disperse them into the Pacific Ocean. Beyond that, frankly, I don’t really care what happens to the body my spirit will have long since left. To each his own on that matter.

  15. this is a great post! I love how you express your desires, and then end with the caveat that you’ll deal with whatever comes, and I know you will! You’re a strong, wonderful person!

  16. This is a very timely post! I’ve just been thinking seriously about the same issue, and pretty much come to the same conclusion. My only concern is that living alone, my own cozy home will slowly become too limiting socially as my contemporaries die. In such a case, but not before, I would consider living in a more stimulating environment, and some assisted-living facilities here do offer lots of things to do, without having to travel to participate. Keep the options open, but live fully today – that’s how I’m handling it.

  17. Although the men in my life are a pain I’m not sure I’d really like to be on my own.
    However, the way you describe it I could get used to living like that – as long as I had my cats.

  18. You are blessed to have such a beautiful view…to be able to walk and see the beauty of Paris…to have this wonderful blog…so many blessings. Your photography touches many of us who visit….you are spreading the blessings. I sit in a house too large and too quiet. I too must find my way getting use to being in my fifties and single. What would I do without my photography and painting…now those are my blessings.

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