As Mom grew older, she began not venturing far from home. I believe this started after she turned sixty. Mother had her favorite grocery store and a chosen route to get there. Doing such meant taking backroads through neighborhoods to avoid traffic on major throughfares.
She was content in her surroundings and especially with heart doctors and hospital staff. Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska was where she worked for close to sixteen years, so there was bias in her patronizing it. Mom had definitely entered the comfort zone at this point in life.
I didn’t understand why at the time. Always on the go, and flying here and there during her early years, I wondered how she could now simply stay put. Mother was happy in visiting garage sales and simply walking through a retail store to look and not buy. Her favorite place to eat was Golden Corral buffet.
She always brought along a sealable Glad bag for chicken bones and some extra pieces of meat that diners weren’t supposed to carry out. A few morsels were smuggled out for our little dogs, “Carly & Simon” as treats. Mother took the leftover bones to a specific area of town and fed them to ravens.
These highly intelligent birds knew her blue Ford Taurus well and would come flying over when it appeared. This simplistic segment of Mom’s life made her content.
It seems I’ve partially entered my own comfort zone. There’s enough to see in a radius of 1000 miles via motorhome to keep me busy for the rest of this life. I love to totally check places out, so there’s not enough time remaining to even investigate that small of a diameter. This circle will grow smaller as the years wind down.
Visiting other countries is not high on my to do list. I’ve been to only one other country numerous times and that’s Canada. The Yukon Territory and British Columbia are much like Alaska. Being there, it’s hard to know I’m not in the United States. Canadians always make me feel at home.
What exactly makes up a comfort zone for retired people? It varies from person to person. I had to think hard about mine before coming up with answers.
There’s no better bed to sleep in than my own. I’ve slept in countless others while traveling and never found them to my liking. Getting a good night’s rest tops almost everything on my list.
The makeup of folks living around me plays a big part of my comfort zone. I’m a conservative by nature and the majority of residents living in Lake Havasu City are the same. I get along fine with liberal thinkers, but can’t see myself living in a Portland, Oregon environment without incurring flak and not feeling safe.
Having a garage is another segment of my comfort zone. Mine’s not big enough by Havasu standards, yet it still affords a large enough place to get away from pressing matters. The term “Man Cave” fits well here. Visiting family or friends for days without a place to tinker is hard. I must keep my mind and hands busy or I’m ready to hit the road for home.
The biggest worry about traveling outside my comfort zone is getting stuck in a place like Timbuktu with a serious medical problem. My father was on the road on the east coast when he was bit by a Brown recluse spider.
He ended up in a New York hospital for almost a month. Logistics for family coming to help were problematic. It’d be devastating both mentally and financially should that happen to Joleen or me. I hope to avoid such a travesty.
Joleen and I still have one dog at home that we’ve called our “fur baby” for close to 15 years. Simon’s very fragile and needs special care. It’d be extremely hard to travel with him right now because of such.
Not everyone can understand why we’ve put our lives on hold to make sure a dog is taken care of. That’s something only “totally committed” pet owners can explain. Simon is “family” and he’s also a huge part of our comfort zone.
I’m sure other such reasons will pop up. For now, those are enough to keep me close to home. Being within two days driving time to our house makes me feel secure.
Young people won’t understand this philosophy until they reach the Golden Years. Some will never reach their comfort zone and that’s fine as well. My late mom would have this to say,
“It takes all kinds to make the world go round, so live and let live!”