The simple life equals ultimate freedom

My dad is here, on his annual 3-week visit.

Dad is in his 82nd year, and his age is finally starting to slow him down a little. The man who has loved golf more than anything except his children and grandchildren all his life doesn’t play the game much anymore because he’s losing his balance. Now he’s lucky to play 9 holes instead of his usual 18, and he has to ride a cart – which is a real admission of frailty for my dad.

So he has begun to consider moving north from his “happy place” (his term) in Florida – where he has lived for 32 years since his retirement from the Coast Guard – to be closer to family. I hope he does, because I think he is going to need help from us soon – for driving, shopping, cleaning, cooking … normal everyday things.

Both my younger sisters are tied to jobs and houses – and they live 200 miles apart. Having Dad near either of them would burden their busy schedules and full lives. They live in urban areas where the cost of living is high and every errand is dependent on an automobile in good running condition and every additional item on their “to do” list subtracts from the little enjoyable living time they have left at the end of the week.

But I am free to relocate. I sold my house long ago and quit my last “real job” 2 years ago to live the life of a low-rent bohemian writer. Believe me when I say I am poor in terms of money, but oh so rich in many other ways! And please believe me when I say it’s the other ways that matter the most!

I don’t have a house full of big rooms and nice furniture … but I also don’t have 30 years of mortgage payments to the bank. I don’t have a pretty yard with landscaping or a shady deck with a barbeque grill … but I also don’t spend my week-ends weeding and mowing and pruning. I don’t have a spacious walk-in closet full of expensive garments with designer labels … but I can spend the day in my jammy pants and a t-shirt if I choose to. I don’t have an impressive new late-model car … but I can walk everywhere I need to go and I couldn’t care less how high the price of gas goes.

I am as free as the wind – and I consider myself to be the richest of all of us. I will have the adventure of helping Dad find the little cabin in the woods that he wants now. I am the one who will move close enough to help him but far enough away not to be intrusive – to make him pots of soup and take him to Mass every Sunday and make sure he has clean socks and good books. I’ll be the one who gets to walk with him in the first snow of winter to gather kindling for his fireplace.

I will be the lucky daughter who gets to repay Dad for the life he gave me … and I can’t think of a better way to spend the next chapter of my life. Is there anything money could buy that would make me richer?

I honestly don’t think so.

The picture of the cabin in the woods was found at a blog by C. Travis Webb called The Rambler. His writing is mostly way over my head, but the post that accompanied this image had this to say about his aspirations to be a great writer:

“I’m talking about ambition. Great ambition. The precursor to great art, and soberingly, great failure–great failure, of course, being far more common. Indeed, the only thing that makes such ambition tolerable, if it is at all, is its proper relationship to the rest of life. Being a generous father, friend, husband, mother, lover, daughter and son is of far greater consequence than any sentence ever written or idea conceived. At least as much good is accomplished when burping an infant as when filling your mouth with Whitman.

“And yes, in spite of my profession, I actually believe that.”

I’ve been – at various different times in my life – a terrible wife, a lousy friend, and a pretty useless daughter. I’ve tried to be a good sister. I was never given the chance to be a good mother. So this is my chance to redeem myself.

And if I’m able to do it, it will be because a simple lifestyle and a lack of commitments and possessions gave me the freedom to try.

* This post was originally found at on Sept 11 2013 and I am re-posting it here to my new blog. 🙂 *