This is the story of my move from a 2,500 square foot home in Vancouver to a 917 square foot condominium in Burlington with my standard poodle, my car and all my belongings to a city totally unknown to me or anybody else that I knew. A retired psychotherapist and psychology teacher, I moved to Vancouver 18 years ago where my third son lived with his wife and new-born baby girl, and where I would be closer to Hood River, Oregon, where my second son lived with his wife and two children.
My youngest son and I had agreed on a plan. I would move to Oakville, Ontario to be close to him and his family when the time was right. Last summer, I celebrated my 83rd birthday. I am in good health and my career as editor-in-chief of a magazine published three times a year is thriving. I had integrated into the Vancouver Jewish community and sat on the board of the Jewish Seniors Alliance. I worked out four times a week, enjoyed Hebrew and Yiddish lessons, and my Airbnb business was booming, but after being diagnosed with stage two endometrial cancer, and undergoing a hysterectomy and radiation treatments two years ago, I began to appreciate that anything could happen to change the situation. Slowly, the idea of waiting seemed foolish. Covid-19 was waning, and after attending a warm and welcoming reunion Jordan had organized for his childhood friends last July, I decided to move to Oakville.
Listings of town houses and houses poured into my inbox, but they were either too expensive, too small, too far from town, and what turned out to be the most limiting condition of all—no dogs allowed over 25 lbs. Desperation seeped into my soul. My real estate agent suggested I look at condominiums, but elevators, rules, and monthly fees were a culture shock for me. Moreover, 85 per cent of the condos do not allow dogs more than 25 lbs. On the third day of searching, I settled on a 917 sq. ft. unit on Lakeshore Road in downtown Burlington. Negotiations were rough, but a purchase price was agreed upon, and the closing date would be Nov. 1, 2022.
My new condo had windows everywhere, built-in furniture and very few walls. A house full of my worldly possesions had to go. With anxiety building and sleep becoming a problem, I hired a downsizer. She helped me sort out what I could take with me and what had to go. I offered furniture and kitchenware to everyone I knew. I hauled hundreds of books, linens, and dishes to the local Salvation Army. Two different auctioneers came in and chose what they could sell. I informed Jewish Seniors Alliance of my plans. They started searching for a new editor for their magazine. It was not to be!
I used the local UPS store in Vancouver to send stuff ahead to my son. All I could handle at the airport were two suitcases, the dog and his kennel. It was emotional torture arranging for the dog to be on the plane with me as “checked baggage” but WestJet does a fine job.
After acquiring an OHIP card, new license plate, a hairdresser, nail technician, dentist, and a female family physician, I was now ready to find friends and figure out how I was going to live the rest of my life in Burlington. I contacted Shaarei-Beth El Rabbi Stephen Wise and we met for an hour; I attended the synagogue’s Ladies Luncheon and participated in their book club meeting on Zoom; I was invited to Judy Schwartz’s home for coffee; I participated in Rabbi Wise’s study groups. I went to Hamilton to visit JHamilton and to check out Hamilton Kosher and Westdale Deli. I found out that there are no Jewish resources in Burlington. You cannot buy a box of matzah in Burlington, but you can buy a challah at Fortinos and at Longos. I met Cynthia Mintz through my first-cousin Peter Seligman, who introduced me to HJN editor, Wendy Schneider. I have not yet found Hebrew speakers and Hebrew teachers.
Four months after my arrival, I now have anxiety-induced high blood pressure; I have created a new home, with new acquaintances, and, hopefully, new opportunities to contribute to the Jewish community in Hamilton/ Burlington/ Oakville.
Dolores Luber is a an active senior adjusting to her new life in Burlington.