Settling in, sorting out

My life is different now. I am finding a rhythm to my days, which include visiting Terry in his assisted living place.

It’s a strange experience though. For a large chunk of time I am a single person, and yet I am still one half of a couple. An ‘Illness Separated Couple’ is our official description. So I am still mindful of Terry in what I do, even though we will never go back to the life we had.

I am gradually clearing away things, sorting out. And working out what I am ready to sort, including sorting out my internal life. The rug for example.

My house (interesting that I write my, not our) is a long one, hallway down the side and rooms lead off that. Then the back area opens out to an open plan kitchen, dining and seating area. This part has never had a proper room name (lounge room/sitting room etc), I always just think of it as The Back Area or Down the Back. It has large windows that look out to the garden.

When we were a proper couple our comfy arm chairs would be next to each other, backs to the garden, looking to the kitchen part. We would sit side by side, drinking endless cups of tea, chatting, reading, arguing. Or I would sit in the comfy red leather chair and watch Terry do the dishes ~ The Washing Up Fairy we called him.

This seating area was marked out by a green and reddish brown rug. It was a lovely thing, wool, made in India and suited the decor perfectly. Then we discovered the moths. Under the comfy red chair, slowly eating the wool rug. Even though we tried various things they gradually migrated from under the comfy red chair to other parts of the rug. I discovered that migration when I vacuumed.

Things got harder with Terry’s health and it was party time for the moths.

Now it was time for the rug, and the moths, to go. So I rolled up the moth-eaten rug, dragged it outside and dumped it for the hard rubbish collection. (The hard rubbish collection is another thing that will happen when the time is right. For now it is just a collection of hard rubbish.)

That left the open space where our chatting had happened. Let me say that I am not someone who rearranges furniture. Once something is there, it is there for many years. That’s why the moths could party on for so long. I was ready to put the chairs back in the original place until I realised I was ready for something different, an arrangement that suits my new Couple Separated by Illness arrangement.

The comfy red chair is now next to the window.

It’s a simple shift that resonates. The comfy red chair is much more of a meditative space now. I have my breakfast here and contemplate the day ahead. I have an afternoon cup of tea here and watch the light change. I read and write here and stop to watch the birds in the garden and the wind moving the leaves.

It’s a space for one, rather than a couple. My new rhythm.

I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live, garden and contemplate my world – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. The land always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

By anne54

Botanic artist

30 replies on “Settling in, sorting out”

I can seriously relate to this post, Anne. After five years of fighting the wool moths we finally replaced all the wool carpet in the three bedrooms with synthetic. It is honestly the best carpet I’ve ever had and I’m really enjoying it so much. Don has traveled quite a bit over the years and I developed a routine when he was away, and one when he was at home, so what you are doing makes total sense to me. It has nothing to do with your feelings or memories, it is just a practical solution and personal preference for this stage in your life. And lastly, we are in Adelaide having just seen the specialist yesterday and Don has a ‘on the aggressive side’ stage 3 prostate cancer that will be taking him away again over the next few months. He will not be able to get the radiation treatment in Alice so will probably go to Darwin for about 6 weeks. Because we have a lot going on at home in Alice I will have to stay there but will visit him a couple of times while he is there. We just need to be flexible during these times of adjustment. To fight it is a fool’s errand. Best wishes to you.

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Ardys, I really feel for you with Don’s diagnosis. Not only having to deal with all the emotional side of a serious illness, but doing it long distance. Reach out if you need any support.
One of the good things about being older is that we can shape our lives to suit ourselves, and, hopefully, not feel judged for those decisions. I feel lucky that I can make a life that suits me.
And aaggghh, bloody wool moths!

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You need to have an arrangement that suits your reality. If your physical surroundings are fighting your peace of mind, that is deeply unhelpful. In a former life, I painted an entire room a different colour and repositioned a chair and table. The change to my mental state was profound and I was able to move forward with optimism. I like the look of your new seating arrangement; it gives you the comfort of your home’s heart, but the joy of communing with nature through that marvellous window.

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You are right, Kate…it has made a difference to me. I have been very introspective of late (no surprises there!) and this arrangement gives me a space to contemplate. At the moment I am watching the noisy miners flitting in the rain drenched leaves of the maple, causing the last of the leaves to fall.
BTW, was the new colour in the room you painted pink??!!


No, it wasn’t pink. The room was originally red, a colour choice of a former partner. I don’t like red for living spaces, but I was overruled. Afterwards, I took control and painted it a peaceful pale green! Much better…


Anne, you write with such grace and poignancy about your changed life. My heart aches for you, and at the same time, I’m so glad that you are finding a new rhythm. I’m sending my love and light as you continue this journey. xo

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Thank you Alys. I can feel that love! It’s a cold, rainy, grey day here, one of those days that encourages introspection, and I am sitting in my comfy red chair feeling the peace.


Such a difficult time for you Anne but it sounds as if you are adapting as best you can. I imagine that something like rearranging things in your home to suit your current situation is a helpful, if poignant, thing for you to do.
Take care of yourself. x

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I know that you would appreciate that we shape our lives around a new reality….and that sometimes that new shape takes a while to form. I am finding that I just need to let it come at its own pace, nothing forced. I hope you are finding some peace too.

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agree with the other comments but just thought maybe you should consider a new mattress or even a new bed, one you chose “for you”. As Kate said, maybe redecorate a whole room

I’ve finally started this year, to realise, that very few people visit here – we met some place else. And the 2 seater couch wasn’t actually being used, other than holding “art supplies” – and it was just an eyesore – so I moved it to the side/back wall of the living space – and moved a few other things. I then had this empty floor space and it has become a “worktable floor” – it’s rather nice as I’m not hampered by a chair/table but rather can sprawl out on the floor with the supplies for whatever I’m doing, also in sprawl mode.

It wouldn’t be for everyone, but it was also a practical exercise of being able to get down/up off the floor. Right now, though, I can’t just get up/down but I then take a new exercise and “crawl to table/chair” for support. I love crawling to my shelves as well…it’s a kind of freedom.

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There are times when I have considered swapping my bedroom and the studio. In fact it was something I thought I would do immediately Terry was no longer with me. However, I am overwhelmed even thinking about that! Small steps. And at the moment it’s still small rearrangements and clearing clutter.
A space that suits you is fabulous! You are such a resilient person, Catherine. I love that you see the positives, and exercise opportunities, in your new arrangement.

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Yes, I can understand the “small steps” like me and the “visitors couch”

I remember when I moved here, that I wanted to create an entrance “foyer” but somehow the furniture I was gifted at time, caused that to disappear. The front door is part of the wide ranch-slider and really causes that little space to be useless.

Your rearranging is making me “think again here” – this unit appears at first glance to be quite large but when you “look at” other spaces you realise a man created the building plans!


Let me say that I am not someone who rearranges furniture either. But it makes sense to acknowledge and respond to change. And wool carpet moths OMG… this is new to me and I’m considering our old daggy reddish but good quality synthetic carpet with new respect. Some day I may need to refer to one or both of these pieces of info and I’m grateful you’ve so generously & kindly shared ♡

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I hope you never need either, Dale. However, one thing that has struck me over all of this is that you never know what is coming. What seemed to be the life suddenly isn’t. I am becoming quite an advocate for future planning!
I thought wool was a good option over synthetic too. However, after my experience and reading Ardys’ comment about needing to replace her wool carpets I know it’s not! Respect to the daggy old rug!

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Hurray for the moths! When something big changes in our lives our homes need to change too. But it can be really difficult to shift things around especially if you tend to keep them the same. Then it can be helpful if something MAKES you change them – like moths in the rug! I know how hard it is to come to terms with a big change in your circumstances you have not chosen. I also realise you are in a funny kind of limbo – not a ‘wife / partner’ but not a ‘widow’ – so while this house was legally transferred into my sole name when John died there is no such formal transition for you from ‘ours’ to ‘mine’. Even with that I still stumble with ‘We moved here…’ and ‘I have lived here…’ But eventually you will take ownership of your home and adapt it to suit your new ways of living. Enjoy your chair in its new place and the gentle thoughts it enables.

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Your comments about the moths made me smile. And you are so right. If it hadn’t been for them I would not have thought about rearranging things. So hurrah for the moths! I knew you would understand this transition time, Sue, and that we need to work it through at our own pace.

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It is a lovely spot, Sue. Maybe my new wish is that everyone have a comfy red chair looking out over their garden (and a garden that doesn’t need weeding!). Thank you for your warm wishes. I have weathered a lot so I know I will be okay.


Such a poignant post. You write beautifully about difficult times. We sometimes find ourselves living the sort of lives we never expected to. It can be really tough. You are facing these changes with dignity and courage. I do hope ypu have real life friends woho can love and support you.

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I know that so many of us face grief and loss ~ such powerful human experiences, and yet each is unique. It has helped me to know of others, that I am not alone. So I hope that maybe my words will resonate with someone too. Thank you for thinking of me, and yes, I have very supportive friends and family who have kept me going through all of this.

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People, like every other species, adapt as we must. Sometimes it’s painless and barely noticeable, but other times … it’s hard and it hurts to let go of the old and embrace the new way. Sounds like you’re getting there, my friend. For what it’s worth, I like the comfy red chair better by the window. Time … give yourself time. Hugs, my friend.


I just read your latest posts, I can imagine life is not easy for you at the moment or for your husband. Looks like you have a really good health system in Australia. My husband has cancer for 8 years now, he is still good with the medication he gets but he can’t be cured, docters have no idea how long he still has, but I am afraid of the day he has a turn for the worse. I can only wish you a lot of courage. Take care !


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