Dolly Merritt

The last time I wore a dress — March 2020 — was the last time I dined inside a restaurant.  I call that time period BC (Before COVID).  The pandemic was in the news, and though there were precautions, no restrictions had yet materialized.

Our daughter was in town to celebrate my birthday, and when we entered the restaurant, only one couple was in sight. A day or two later the closing of businesses, schools, and sporting events began. After that, no more church services; no more birthday, anniversary or graduation parties; no more hugging our grandchildren; no more dinners out and Panera lunches; and no more of what once was.

The Call We’d Been Waiting For

So, I still can’t quite believe that when the whole world was hunkering down, my husband Paul and I decided it was a good time to downsize 17 years’ worth of accumulated stuff. Which I prefer to call “collectibles,” and move to a retirement community. But we did and we’ve had a happy adventure.

Even though we had been on the Asbury Solomons waiting list for about a year, we never really expected our desired cottage to become available any time soon. Yet in July 2020, there it was, waiting on us. Paul and I hesitated, thinking about the problems of moving during the pandemic. We were especially hesitant about opening our home to potential buyers who could be harboring the virus. We also thought new friendships at Asbury Solomons would be harder to form when their in-person options were on hold.

Yet the very reasons that put us on the waiting list still existed. We would be closer to our children — and enjoying a beautiful community on the Patuxent River.

Another reason we had decided to move in the first place: No cooking unless you feel like it. No more mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or worrying about a leaky roof; and less house to clean. Campus amenities that include swimming, kayaking, gardening, and travel – and clubs ranging from “Pet” to “Party People” are available. Most importantly, there’s the reassurance of health care as we age.

Prepping For The Move

So, we bit the bullet, said “yes” to the move, and proceeded with the mania of moving. The word “downsizing” took on a new meaning as we purged clothes, linens and photos (the hardest thing to do).   A young grocery clerk became my hero by putting aside as many apple and banana boxes as possible. I counted some 82 cartons packed with our discards, which we hauled to Goodwill. There we joined the throngs of people also cleaning out their houses.

Since my husband and I lived miles away from Asbury Solomons, and we had little time, we visited our cottage once to pick out flooring, cabinets, hardware, and countertops.  With the aid of the retirement counselor, we shaved off hours of indecision and checked off another item from our list.

Two months later, we were in our new home, trying to decide where to put what. Surprisingly, being glad we had gotten rid of most of our treasured “collectibles.” After six months here, our cottage is looking more like a home with a few more things on the wall.  (My husband winces every time I have a hammer in my hand.)

COVID may have affected our participation in several activities in our community, but it hasn’t kept us from meeting so many friendly people.  We were instantly welcomed by neighbors who knocked on our door bearing muffins and other treats. During the fall we were invited to outdoor gatherings. Recently, we exchanged social visits, safely, with another couple we had met. My husband has been playing pool twice a week in the reopened billiards room, and has played in a golf tournament with our daughter and a neighbor.

Since February, we’ve been fortunate to receive the vaccine and are looking forward to the gradual reopening of many things in the near future. As a matter of fact, the beautiful Riverview Dining Room has recently opened and I happily wore my purple dress… for my first dinner “out” in a very long time.

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