Leaving Home

Reflections on Moving to Riverside Glen

John Hofstee reflects on his transition to a new home in his senior years. It is a thoughtful description of his journey at a pivotal point in his life.

In all the years since, I have known in whose hands my life lay.

John Hofstee


In 2011, when I relocated to Guelph from Listowel after a long and varied work life, I purchased a large condominium apartment, three bedrooms and a spacious living area. I used one small bedroom as my office/computer room. The purchase price of the condominium was affordable, and monthly costs were within my budget. The unit included a built-in washer and dryer. I prepared my own food, did my own laundry, and employed a cleaning lady who came every two weeks to clean the bathroom and kitchen, dust, vacuum and mop the floors.
In the summer of 2019, I gave up driving. I was afraid I would not be able to manage without access to transportation and considered moving to a retirement home. My daughter-in-law Grace and I visited several such homes in Guelph, but I chose to put off a decision. Later that summer I purchased an electric scooter, which allowed me some mobility and independence: once again I put off any thought of relocating. However, I do not like cooking and so my diet included more and more frozen dinners. Managing the laundry became more and more of a chore.
Back In 2017, I had looked around my apartment, considering what would happen to all my keepsakes, family heirlooms and memorabilia. I prepared a list and circulated it among my children to see if they were interested in any particular items, but left it at that for the time being.


Over the years I’ve received much help. Friends and neighbours provided rides to church and social activities. One neighbour faithfully drove me to appointments; and took my shopping list to the supermarket, even putting away the groceries in my kitchen. I managed to get by, although it became more and more difficult as my strength and mobility decreased.
In the fall of 2020, my daughter-in-law contacted the local health network for information about assistance that would allow me to stay on in my own quarters. An occupational therapist assessed my apartment and arranged some physical aids that would help me to stay independent.

In December 2020, an incident set me thinking. While getting a basket from the vanity, I found myself on my knees, unable to get up. It took me a long time before I was able to reach the telephone to call for help.

It was time.


I reactivated my review of retirement home options. With the help of my daughter-in-law, I chose to apply to Riverside Glen, primarily because some people from my church live there, while others live nearby. In the middle of February I was put on the waiting list and paid the deposit, having been cautioned that it would be several months before a room was available. On March 15—I was in hospital at the time—a representative of Riverside Glen contacted Grace. To my surprise, two rooms were available. I had 48 hours to decide. Without hesitation, I opted for the studio room overlooking the parkette between two buildings. The decision was made.

Then shock set in.

I was going to be moving from a spacious (1300 sq. ft.) apartment to a room of 325 sq. ft. Little of my furniture would fit. The following afternoon, my son and daughter-in-law and I went shopping for appropriate replacements. A week or so later, we decided on a moving date, Monday April 12, arranged for a moving company, and ordered a twin bed, side table and settee for delivery on April 8. All the items, including a new computer desk, would be assembled that day.
On Good Friday afternoon (April 2) Mark and Grace came with storage containers, cartons, and bubble wrap and packed up all the keepsakes and heirlooms, to be stored until the delivery date. While they wrapped everything on my list, I watched from my easy chair. Seeing the transition to empty shelves was a shock.
The week before the big move, we three went for Covid tests. We were all clear, so that I was going to be able to move in and they would be able to help and come to see me.
The weekend before moving day, Mark and Grace marked all the items that would be taken to Riverside, packing clothes and personal items in the drawers of the one dresser that was coming with me. The numerous little plastic baskets on my shelves that held an assortment of items were also marked to come along.
On moving day, the moving company loaded up and delivered everything in a few hours. Mark and Grace organized my new place. Mark assembled my computer system and the TV and cable equipment. Grace brought hooks and a hammer to hang the photographs I had chosen to bring. I stayed out of their way. By the time they left, my room was well-organized. I was now a resident. Life at Riverside Glen had begun.


Affected by Covid-19

The move to Riverside Glen stipulated that I was to be in quarantine for two weeks. I would not be able to leave my room during that time, and meals would be brought to me. I have not lacked contact with other people: personnel are in and out of my room frequently. As of this writing, I have not met any of my fellow residents, eaten in the dining room, or seen and used any of the home’s facilities. A member of the staff spent two hours attaching labels to each item of clothing, from individual socks to dress shirts—a requirement since I’ve chosen to have RG personnel look after my laundry,

My shelves are crowded with baskets, and there are several things for which I have not been able to find a place—they will have to find another home. I have parted with my microwave after discovering that there is no counter space.


I quickly realized that my collections would not go with me—photo albums, music DVDs and CDs. I had already scanned many photos that were important to me. I have elected to keep a few DVDs and CDs and have gone through all the albums, passing on to my brother all photos of my brother’s family and our forebears.
I miss my daily newspaper, especially on the weekend. Reading the paper and the informative articles broadened my worldview.

My Final Reflection:

This is how John responded to the question: “Perhaps you can write a final short section reflecting on how your faith has sustained you, and what you see for yourself in the next few years…. We need to know that this time comes to all of us.” …..

My life’s attitude has been not to be greatly affected by the things that happen to me but to live with the circumstances and make the best of them. That was already my attitude when I was 15 and I had to leave high school when we went to Canada. I knew school was over and I would have to go to work, and that I would make the best of what happened. Over the years I have continued my education by extension courses.

In all the years since, I have known in whose hands my life lay.

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