The Retirement Home Search and The Well of Memories

We were out for an adventure today, shopping for a retirement home. That’s what it was, really, although we really didn’t make any hard decisions or commitments.

Nowadays there are considerations for whether to build from the ground up, buy and modify a spec home, buy an older home, go condo, even rent, move to a retirement village, and whatnot.

You have to think about mud rooms, pantries, walkout basements, whether to finish the basement or not, lot size, square footage of the house and the yard, two car or one car garage, Jack and Jill sinks, lawn sprinkler systems, Home Owner Associations (HOAs), fences, ceiling fans, gas fireplaces, whether or not you want to live next door to a high school baseball stadium and more even beyond that.

What you don’t have to think about is whether or not there’s indoor plumbing.

When my brother and I were little boys, our pastor and his family took us on a long drive up to the sticks somewhere in Minnesota in the dead of winter. Man, it was cold up there. The object of the visit was to visit a family who lived out on a farm and they didn’t have indoor plumbing.

There was an outhouse and a well. I remember the pastor’s little girl and his brother and me and my little brother stood by the well and talked about how pure the water was in the well. While we were talking, the pastor’s daughter picked up a rock and, before anyone could stop her, dropped it into the well—just to see how it would float down to a bottom nobody could see.

Her little brother was pretty annoyed. The member of the family we were visiting had just remarked how clear and pure the well water was. After the rock spiraled out of sight into the water, her brother spat out, “Well, it was but now it isn’t!” She just snickered.

Because we were staying the night at the farmhouse, we went to bed. There was a large pan for urinating but if you had to move your bowels, the only option was the outhouse.

I had to go. I waited as long as I could because it was really cold out there. Finally, I just couldn’t hold it any longer, and I had to pull on some clothes and trudge over the frozen ground to this shabby little shed that I could smell long before I got to the rickety door.

There was some paper in there but—it wasn’t real toilet paper. It might have been magazine pages. I was so cold it was impossible to relax enough to let go.

I had problems with constipation after that for a good long while, well after we returned home.

Things have changed a lot—mostly for the better in many ways but you still have to pay a high price in other ways.

Toilet paper is softer.

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