Moving On…

 In Aging, Facing Reality, Phoenix, Relationships, Retirement, Seasons, Transition

It’s not my dentist, but my hygienist that I don’t want to leave. And for that matter, I don’t want to lose my hairdresser. Okay, okay, I will also miss that checker at my grocery store.

Eleven years ago I moved from our home of 15 years from a small town to another only 15 miles away. Yes, I kept going back to the one who cleaned my teeth and the one who cut and fixed my hair. I also kept eating at my favorite Italian restaurant. In every case these were where there were people who seemed to care about their customers, their clients, their patrons.
And now I have moved another 40 miles farther still. Anyone who has moved—which is most of us—can relate to all that’s involved in relocating.

With the previous short moves, I was able to maintain my doctor and her empathetic nurse. But now my health—or lack of—has precipitated having to find a new doctor where I live. I had been blessed with Dr. B, who had seen me through my health issues for over 10 years with a very personal touch. It was she who walked both me and my husband through his cancer diagnosis, treatment, and eventual loss. How could I leave her? I will say I really tried, until I got very sick and needed a local doctor.

In that process—finding a new physician—I chose one, but I was probably expecting too much, having in my mind that every doctor should be like my Dr. B. I am happy that after one misstep, I found my present Dr. E. She is warm, personable, knowledgeable and real. I say a reluctant goodbye to Dr. B, but am hopeful that I have found another who shares her best qualities.

Just as it was impractical to drive an hour to my former doctor, it was even more than an hour to my dentist. Although Dr. R was great, the person who spent the most time with me was his hygienist, Belinda. Toward the end of my 20 years with her, she retired.

I know I’m not the only patient who missed her. She was an absolute wit! As soon as she got her hands in my mouth, she would crack a joke or tell a funny story. And I couldn’t laugh. It was she who sent me a postcard once when my teenage daughter had come for her cleaning appointment with a wet head, having just showered. She humorously let us both know that this was disappointing behavior. After Belinda left, I did get a very capable hygienist, but it was impossible to replace someone like Belinda.

So, with the latest move, on the recommendation of my younger daughter—yes, the wet head—I chose the dentist her family uses. I have had one cleaning appointment so far. I am afraid I don’t even remember the name of the young lady who performed this service, but I did note she has the same gentle method of cleaning with which Belinda had spoiled me. Good prospect. After the cleaning the dentist made the customary visit to receive the report of the hygienist and see for herself. I do credit that doctor for finding some needed repair work that I was aware of but hadn’t mentioned. Promising!

So, that brings me to my hairstylist. My creative lady hairdresser, Sonia, had left for another career about three years previously, but not without referring me to another gifted young stylist, Naomi. I have been doubly blessed. Sonia had been keeping my hair—and my secrets—for over 12 years. Before my own latest move, I had followed Naomi to a couple of new shops until she got her own place. Even though I am still about 30 miles from her salon, I still work it out to get my hairdressing needs met by her. She embodies the three c’s: caring, creative, complimentary and she can keep my secrets. Very important in a hairdresser.

It’s probably obvious why dental care, health and beauty needs are very personal. It makes a difference in we mere mortals’ lives to have those who care for us, to care about us as well. If we each took inventory, we would find we rely on these professionals to help keep our lives in balance.

The last, but in no way the least, is what to do about my Italian restaurant. That place has been the scene of many family celebrations and a favorite place for me and my late husband, where we had many an intimate meal.  What’s the draw? Of course, the food is phenomenal! All from scratch every day. Picture New York cuisine in a small farming community in a California valley.

When the Fortunas began the restaurant some 15 years ago, it quickly became an oasis in an otherwise dry culinary spot. But it went beyond that. Many eating establishments came along, but none could match Dave’s steak, in the studied opinion of my husband. And the minestrone soup and chicken parmesan! Okay, you get it.

So now I am over an hour away, but even though I no longer have my doctor or dentist, this restaurant has earned my loyalty. My taste buds would not forgive me for leaving this place behind. As you might imagine, it is much more than the great food and atmosphere. This family makes each meal an event. As is more typical in a small town, they often just sit and engage diners in a small conversation. They make each of us know we are memorable as well.

Moving on is not easy, but it is necessary. Whether we have actually changed locations, or change happens all around us, losing a husband being my personal heaviest. Change is inevitable. Life is not stagnant. If we are, we are no longer living. Oh, we may be going through the motions, but have we given ourselves permission to be fully engaged, to give the new place and/or people a chance to be what they are, and let that be the new “okay.” They might even become a new, improved Belinda. Okay, not possible. I went too far.

But, we owe it to ourselves and others to gracefully navigate this life, taking change as a natural, normal part of living. Things may never be what they were. But what if they became even more if we gave them the chance. Can we look afresh at our changed world and allow it to freshen us? Living is about staying in motion.

– Shari Rubinstein



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