Silver Threads: Inn the mood for retirement
Back in the day, I often thought of my late husband as a man with no hobbies because he didn’t play golf or bridge, wasn’t a football fanatic, by passed invitations to join square-dance clubs and their ilk, etc.
But he was a superb cook — prompting T-P columnist Betty Guillaud to remark after a party at our house, “Well, you’ve got a chef in residence” — turning out delicious holiday and celebratory and just regular meals. And he joined a group from Texas in restoring and piloting their vintage motor homes throughout the southwestern U.S. and once up to Mackinaw in Michigan. I joined him when my work permitted, often riding up and flying back. And he joined me in much of my overseas traveling, which has been my hobby.
I’ve come to realize, however, that Bobby’s real interest lay in plotting, planning and investigating, and it was one he could continue long after the aging of both motor home and man — plus a dislike of cruises — grounded him.
So at about age 70 he began “checking out” retirement homes. His research took him around to all the local facilities in person and then onto the internet, where he peered into life and amenities at places as far away as Longview, Texas, near which I have a multitude of cousins beloved by both of us. (Those “online excursions” annoyed me, because for several years after they took place I answered many landline calls from administrators keen to have us turn up there one day.)
Then we got an invitation to a birthday party in Covington and decided to book a motel room for the night rather than drive the causeway after too many glasses of wine. We checked into a Holiday Inn, where we had a suite, an invitation to free breakfast the next day and a peaceful rest on beds with dozens of pillows and a big shower with a handrail.
My husband was inspired. This comfortable spot with room service, special movies on TV, a spa, swimming pool, workout room, a lounge with washers and dryers, a city bus stop out front (seniors ride free), maid service, free toothpaste and razors and shampoo and soap— this could be our retirement home!
We could move from inn to inn, from city to city. Even from country to country. We’d be like that wealthy New Orleans widow who was said to have made her home for years on a luxurious cruise ship.
Bobby even figured that we’d save money: no more FEMA bills, payments for gas and electricity, subdivision homeowners’ dues, roof repairs and replacements, grass-cutting and house-cleaning charges … You get the picture.
We never did move, either to an HI or to one of the retirement places he so assiduously and enthusiastically investigated. But last week the idea came up again: I got an email touting the Holiday Inn plan as a great deal for the elderly; it was forwarded by a friend from Minnesota. That it had originated in England is a possibility: the room prices were in pounds, not dollars.
It kind of makes me wonder: Is there a Brit over there whose wife is being plagued by calls from places like Longview?
Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.