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  • Chloe O'Sullivan

On Tour With the Kid | Home is a State of Mind


Image: Häuslein Tiny House Co

When the kid was little, we renovated an old house. It was not a mansion by any means, but it was exactly what I had always wanted. Somewhere I could sit and watch the sunset, space for the dogs, quirky little nods to music all over the house, and a kitchen I could dance in. The last part is more important than you might think. This was ours—our forever home.

 

Then three years ago, my mum got sick. In three weeks, we went from her working and having an active life with the kid to having a time frame for how long she was going to live. We are a pragmatic family and have certainly dealt with loss before, but this particular loss was not something I had prepared for. The day we found out, I walked out of my house to be with my mum. There wasn't even a discussion; it was obvious that was the thing to do.

For the six months we had, four generations of our family were together. We were surrounded by friends who offered both emotional and practical support. They threw me in the shower on the days I was paralyzed by fear. They were the people that kept me standing when it felt like the world had taken my legs out from under me. When the final days came, they were by my side the night I had to say goodbye.

It's impossible to go through something like that and not think about what your life will look like in the end. As well-meaning as it is, there are gaps in the system that leave people scared and alone. If you don't have family who are in a position to drop everything to help, or you don't have money, it is easy to fall through the cracks. Three of my closest friends from school and I have oddly ended up with similar life circumstances. We all have one child each, and looking ahead, the idea that they would have to go through what we had just been through alone was too much to bare. Of course, you hope life brings them the kind of friends we found, but as this situation pointed out, there are no guarantees.

We had always talked about communal living in our retirement years. The Golden Girls but with our own space, and that one of us is a man. Tiny houses and a large communal space for being social seemed like the perfect plan. The joint costs of a nurse, a cook, and a housekeeper seem more affordable split four ways. First, it combats the loneliness that I'm sure you feel as you get older and less connected with the world. I have always been pushed out of my comfort zone to make friends because of work or because the kid was starting school. When those things aren't a factor, it feels like it would be so easy to withdraw.

The other bonus is that when our time comes, none of our kids will have to go through it alone. At the very least, they will have each other. All brought together thanks to their weird parents. This is where the idea of Crone Valley was born. The male in our group is not thrilled about the name, but he will come around.

Everyone should feel that sense of security. Spending their last years surrounded by friendship, laughter and love. We have all been around long enough to know that plans can change, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't have one. Communal living seems more appealing with the rising cost of rent and the fact that we have just been through a pandemic that kept anyone living alone more disconnected than before. Maybe we should start before we all need a walking frame. Who would be part of your Crone Valley?

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