“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens,
That has been on my mind a lot lately. In the best of times, we built two houses, planted over 20 varieties of fruit trees, watered and maintained a lush garden, and tended daily to our chores of feeding our dogs, cats, chickens, and stray animals that wandered on our property.
In the best of times, we walked daily into town, kayaked in the lake, swam daily, experimented with recipes from the fruits of our labors, and preserved the many fruits that fell from our trees. We climbed ladders, carried bags of cement, raked mangoes, dug holes, pulled weeds, and built stone paths. We cleared the beach, bagged garbage, hauled sand, planted flowers, and dug out the road to our house that washed away in a flood.
You get the picture, right? What happens when we can no longer keep up our lifestyle? What happens when I get dementia like my mother, aunt, and grandmother? What happens when I no longer know who I am, or wander into the jungle only to be captured by a congress of Howler Monkeys? Or, even more frightening, I can’t walk and there is nothing…absolutely nothing on our island that is handicapped accessible.
Will it be the worst of times? Will I be a Stayer?
I am not a fatalist. I am a realist, and I know the time is coming to prepare for the transition to a different lifestyle. But, what? We’ve had many discussions about our future. Should we stay or should we go? When is the right time to make a transition? Where will we go?
My expat friend on Ometepe Island is dying of cancer. She is weak and frail, spending most of her time in bed. Nicaraguans who used to work for her, now tend to her needs. It scares me that she is leaving this world unprepared. She never made a will. The scavengers are circling, rumors are rampant, little things go missing from her house, and fights ensue among her employees. I hate that for her and I am determined not to let that happen to us.
What are our options?
I am a Stayer. I know that in my heart, I can never return to the states. That is not an option. Yet, I don’t want our only son or my husband to be my caretakers, and I refuse to go into a nursing home. I worked in nursing homes throughout college…and I know that is NOT an option for me.
I am a Stayer. We are fortunate to have many options. We have two houses we can sell, and with the money either move to a small apartment or condo in Nicaragua within walking distance of grocery stores and restaurants on the mainland.
I am a Stayer. We can buy a plot of land and build long-term rentals, all handicapped accessible, in an area that lacks long-term rentals. Our son can manage the rentals and build a house for his family. We can rent our house until we feel that it is time to move off the island.
I am a Stayer. We can stay on the island and hire trusted helpers who can live in our casita. We will need to expand the casita and add a kitchen, but it is doable.
I am a Stayer. Our wills are prepared in Nicaragua and the states, our property title is legal and filed in the courts, we have international health insurance, we are registered with the U.S. Embassy in case of an emergency, my passwords are safely stored in my email folder, my son and husband have my passwords, and as far as I know, everything is in order.
I am a Stayer. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am nowhere near ready to kick the bucket, but when I do, I want to be in control and it will be on my terms. I will not die with incompetence, pain, or suffering. I will pass peacefully in the BIG SLEEP on my terms, when I consider it necessary.
It will never be the worst of times for us. Whatever we decide to do, we will both feel comfortable and reassured that we made the right decision to STAY. For we are Stayers. We live with informed wonder and discover new things daily. We create, we trust, and we live with grace…lots of grace. For we are Stayers in this wondrous life.
Are you a stayer? If so, what makes you a stayer?