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FRED FIRST: Light At The End . . .

We have a moving date and a new address

If you’ve been following along as our sidewalk ends, you were around back last November 2023 when we learned our son’s family would be moving back to Columbia, Missouri.

Long story short: We put our name on the list for a Life Plan community there. We were told a space would be available in November 2024. I learned at six months out (on May 1) that no, it might be another year to get that 940 square foot space we had signed up for.

Things fall apart.

And so, in early May, to get our foot in the door while still aware and ambulatory (and gain priority of choice as a resident for any larger spaces eventually) we accepted an 800 square foot apartment that is soon to be empty. Gulp.

🖐️ Herein is a cautionary tale for any reader thinking of making this move into a Continuing Care Retirement Community.

Find out what will get you in the door the soonest. Consider taking less than you ultimately want rather than wait anxiously outside the system for the most desirable spaces where the wait may be longer than the days you have remaining.

I wish I had had this advice 8 months ago.


The house sold in February without listing. The buyers (who would be good friends, were we to remain in Floyd) were remarkably agreeable with our open-ended departure date.

Then, in a prayer answered last week, an acquaintance who learned we were moving offered to bring a truck and movers and take anything we didn’t want for a yard sale to benefit low-income children.

Let me rephrase that: they took away what we could not use in an 800 foot apartment that included many things we wanted but could no longer have around us.

Letting go of a hundred tools and books and kept things that told stories from the past half century was one of the hardest and most emotionally exhausting things I have ever done. This burden on top of the sustained physical exertion the truck-loading required was almost too much for old bones. Suffice to say we got through it.


The moving van backs up to the door on August 26.


And so we have 88 days left to savor the mountain air; hear the whippoorwills and watch the fireflies levitate above the pasture grass at night; and enjoy the easy comfort of the familiar.

It has been a wonderful life. And there is more to be had under a different sky with friends we have not yet met.

This has been a remarkable life as a son of Appalachia, from Birmingham to the Blue Ridge. But there will be sky and clouds, friends and days to come.I don’t see it, but I believe it. Keeping the faith.– Fred First is an author, naturalist, photographer watching Nature under siege since the first Earth Day. Cautiously hopeful. Writing to think it through. Thanks for joining me. Subscribe to My Substack HERE

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