Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Loss of use of the house hurts

Several years ago, I encountered for the first time the frustration some retired people must feel.

My beloved cousin Angelo, now deceased, was in the process of moving into an assisted-living facility with his wife, Veronica, back then. His faculties were beginning to fail, though he was actually physically capable for the most part. For several reasons, it was becoming obvious that he and his wife couldn’t live alone in their house and needed to be in a place where they could be supervised a little.

The thing was, Angelo was just in absolute despair. He was leaving a house, a three-bedroom, two-bath, two-car garage place on a street corner in Lantana near the airport. The whole house was his kingdom, and with his queen, Veronica, he lived the kind of life he deserved after a lifetime of work. The garage was like the throne room, where he ruled over the tools and other toys of a life that he felt was his and his alone.

And it was all gone now. The house would be sold, but at that point he still owned it. He and I walked into his new apartment at the assisted-living center, and he opened up to me that he was depressed. This was like living in an apartment, he said, and it hurt him that his front door opened on a hallway and not to outside. His ham radio gear was in a group room now, not in the study where I’d always find Angelo as he tried to contact others, and he had to have an attendant open it up when he wanted it.

There was barely room for his computer now, and life had become compressed, he felt.

I really believe that while moving into the assisted-living facility prolonged his life, it took so much away from Angelo. On my visits, especially after Veronica died, it was like the light went out of his eyes. We’d talk about airplanes, flights, life, work and more, but it seemed like he felt he was just marking time in that place.

Under the able care of Dorothy and the women she brought in, a little of that light came back when he left the facility, but I feel that the damage had already been done.

And today, I know exactly how Angelo feels.

The house on Rock Bridge Lane
It was a great opportunity to be able to come to work for the Gainesville Sun after being unemployed and then underemployed. I was darned lucky to find a job in my field, even if it did not pay well and did not offer benefits, but I could see the catastrophe around me.

Going to Gainesville and working for the paper opened up a new opportunity for me, and I am glad I did it, but I had to leave behind the beloved house in Ellenton. It’s almost like I’m channeling Angelo because I know his pain and loss.

Like him, I loved my house, with its large rooms and airy backyard, as well as its spacious garage and long driveway. I especially loved that I could park my car in the garage and leave my telescope partially assembled in the garage, then drag it several feet outside to do observing. A few times, I brought it around to the backyard, away from the lights, and was able to see some amazing things from back there.

That life, which I left more than a year and a half ago, seems like a dream to me now. I live in a condo, and there are no more quickie observing sessions. Getting to set up the telescope involves the confluence of having the right night off, having a parking space I can appropriate for the telescope, the one next to it for my car and, the biggest hassle of all, carrying the whole disassembled telescope and accessories down two flights of stairs, assembling them, then bringing the whole magilla back up.

Even going to star parties, of which I can only attend a few because of my work schedule, were a hassle. In the past, I’d load the telescope, mount and accessories in the car, leave the car in the garage, and pull out when ready. When I came home, often I’d just pull the car into the garage and leave it for unloading the next day. I definitely can’t do that where I live.

My life has changed and become more constricted, and that frustrates and saddens me.

I know it’s just a lot of whining. I mean, Angelo couldn’t see a way out of his situation, and I can see one out of mine. I can either move back to the house in Ellenton and resign myself to a brutal 2.5-hour commute to and from work, or I can move into a rental house when my lease is up in July 2012. Or I can just endure this situation, where at least I have a home for me and the cats, and can hope that things change somehow.

The reality that must be faced is that eventually I am going to lose that beloved house. Maybe I’m too sentimental. After all, I read an article recently that said that most people who lose their house to foreclosure or short sale have a better life afterward. I think that after I stop paying the mortgage, and that will happen soon, and the tenant moves out, I will be calmer and better able to deal with my current situation.

I’m younger than Angelo was, and a bit more resilient. I am single, with no kids, and thus can take more blows to my life. Maybe I should just stop thinking about “Safuto Castle” but part of me wonders if I can ever go back there. After all, someone else is living there and paying rent, but it is my house. Something in me doesn’t want to give up without a fight.

I know Angelo felt that way, too. And that’s why I feel so bad for him and how he ended his days. He was surrounded by love, but he lost so much in the process. I don’t want to end up that way.


September 13, 2011 - Posted by | Life lessons, Living in the modern age | , , , , ,

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