Saturday, May 12, 2012


I have found, as I grow older, that change is hard. Is that true for you too?

When I was in grade school I couldn’t wait for high school. In our school district we went to grade school from K through 6th grade. Then for 7th grade all the students from the 4 feeder grade schools, one in each village, moved on to the high school. Technically we were in junior high but grades 7 through 12 were in the same building. It was a big change and one I loved, while being nervous about being at the bottom of the rung grade wise.

After high school came the first major change of my life, going away to college. That was a change I so welcomed. The entire summer of 1963 I could not wait to leave for nursing school in Buffalo, NY. There was no question then about where to live. All students were required to live in the dorms. We were located at 636 Linwood Avenue. There was a student whose home was in the 600 block of Linwood Avenue, she still lived in the dorms. There were no exemptions. Those years of nursing school and living in the dorms were wonderful, it was the biggest change yet in my life.

After graduation I stayed in Buffalo, working at the hospital where I’d trained while pursuing my BSN at a nearby college. It was a change but not such a big one.

Then I joined the Navy Nurse Corps and was sent to Newport R.I., then Great Lakes Naval Hospital. This was a major change but one I embraced and enjoyed. It was there I met my husband, who was a Marine at the time, just back from Viet Nam. We got married, and that was a very big change. Learning to live with another person involved much change and growth  for both of us.

One of the things we started doing when we got married was developing 5 year plans. We had a notebook and wrote down those plans. It was fun planning together. We moved a few times, adopted children, and then settled down in a small town where my husband had a private medical practice ,and where we planned to raise our children. We were still doing 5 year plans, planning vacations, etc. It’s funny but divorce was never brought up in those planning sessions. But it happened, and then I was left to make my own plans for our children and me.

I moved 4 hours away to Saint Paul, MN. I made some short term plans but found it difficult to make long term plans. Making plans with a partner is more fun than making plans alone. When cancer struck the first time I sold my house and moved to this apartment complex. I truly planned to stay here the rest of my life. But then more cancer and an early retirement meant I needed to make other plans. I needed to change what I thought were my unchangeable plans.

So I’m moving again. I’m finding it hard to embrace this change. Right now I’m tired from making a few trips over and back to Tomahawk. Today I hired a U-Haul so I can get almost everything that’s left moved at once. I’m feeling sad, nauseated, and just wishing that somehow life could have turned out  differently. But, as Emily Dickinson wrote, I dwell in possibility. I need to move forward and embrace each new day.

I’m thinking of my great uncle, Howard Olmstead. Howard was born 1883 in the temporary home his parents,  Wallace Gifford Olmstead and Mahala Strong, had built in Gerry, New York. I still have the birthing bed he was born in. When he was 3 years old his father built a large farm house from the virgin timber on his property. Uncle Howard used to tell us about watching the house be built. In my generation this house was always referred to as Uncle Howard’s as he inherited it. He had never married. His cousin George Olmstead and his wife Bessie were the hired help for the home and farm. Thanks to Bessie’s love of cooking and hospitality Uncle Howard’s place served as the get together every Sunday for one or met sets of Olmstead kin to visit and have dinner. Uncle Howard never spent 1 night away from this home. The thought of spending a night elsewhere made him sick. In 1960, on January 6th, he developed septic shock from an untreated abscessed tooth, and was admitted to the hospital. He died the next day, on my 15th birthday. My parents always believed he died because the shock of being in a bed not his own was too much for him. I tend to believe that too. So I come by my finding change difficult honestly. There’s some of Uncle Howard in me. Or perhaps fear of change just comes with aging, like achy knees, bad hips, and everything else that happens to our bodies.

Uncle Howard Olmstead with me and my brothers. 1955-56

Uncle Howard with Bessie Olmstead, the wife of cousin George. She's the one who made all the delicious Sunday dinners for the bzillion Olmsteads descended from Uncle Howard's parents. This is about 1958 in our front yard.


  1. Change is always hard, isn't it?

    P.S. I was happy to find your blog. I don't want my real name linked to my blog, but I think you will know who I am :)

  2. Yes, change can be hard. It can also be exciting, especially when we're younger. Fortunately nursing is a profession that demands flexibility so I will survive this change. But it's not easy.

    LOL, after looking at your blog yes, I know who you are. Thanks for visiting ;-)