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Why did we move? 引越しの理由

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Many deer in our neighborhood 鹿がいっぱい
Texada Island with Raiden タクセーダ島 ライデンと

How many years ago was it?? Hmmmm…. Oh well…..it was several years ago anyway. My beloved nephew was getting married, and Neil and I were attending his wedding in Japan. Just when we were about to depart, Neil fell at a trail we walk the dogs every single day. He broke his ankle! It was too late to cancel the trip. I arranged the house so Neil could survive while I was away, and I flew to Japan by myself. I hurried back home to Canada right after the wedding.

Poor Neil, as soon as he saw my face, he declared. “We are moving.”

“What?” It hit me as a shock. We have just renovated our house! We moved to Lions Bay and it took two years to finish renovating. I loved our house and our neighborhood.

Give me a break, Neil …..!

But, he was right. Realistically thinking, if he could not walk by himself, he could not even go to the front door, or bedroom, or kitchen or bathroom. When you enter the front door, there is a staircase….if you cannot go up and down the stairs you are doomed. You are not going anywhere from the door. And, we did not think of it until it actually happened.

After that day, the word “moving” had occupied a little corner of my head flickering from time to time.

So Neil and I, not quite young chicks any more, definitely growing older, started to think seriously what would be important for us.

Important things would be….health, peace of mind, happiness of our children and grandchildren, friendships, communities, some intellectual and cultural stimulation, life purposes, helping others….etc.etc.

We started to see that Powell River might be a good fit for us. It is close to our cottage on Texada Island. The real estate is still cheaper than other places in the Sunshine Coast.

Long long time ago when I was working in the building product industry, I wrote an article introducing to the Japanese market Canada’s barrier-free houses. While interviewing people for the article, I remember thinking I would love to live in one of these barrier-free houses when I get old.

One day, we met a guy named Gary who sold us a truck camper. He told us that he built by himself a passive solar house. He kindly showed us his house, and we were impressed. We started researching about passive solar houses, and found an article about a “passive house” on Vancouver Island built by a company in Squamish. (Passive solar house is a predecessor of passive house). We contacted the company right away.

Things went very smoothly up to this point, but it was a struggle after struggle from there on. We couldn’t find a builder who would be willing to risk building such a house. Nobody knew how long and how much money was needed to build. We had no idea if we could even afford it.

We came so close to giving up the idea, but kept on talking to builders. In the end, we found a local Powell River builder who was open to give this challenging project a try. We liked the person very well, so we happily threw the dice. We sold 60% of our house in Lions Bay to our youngest daughter. She had just started a family, and wanted a house, but, of course, could not afford one in Vancouver. This arrangement seemed to create a win-win situation. She got a house to live, we got the construction money, and we retained 40% so we had a place to stay while visiting our grandchildren.

So, the construction started. We were so happy, looking forward to live there a year later……then, Covid came. Everything just stalled. People worked from home, shipments utterly delayed. The construction schedule was nullified. The prices of materials skyrocketed…. Our house grew grossly over budget. What can we do? …..Nothing…. we can’t stop now…..

My blood pressure kept on rising for the four years.

Finally this July, we were able to move into our new house in Powell River. After 4 years of waiting we are now living in this little city of 14000 people. Our house is a passive house, no furnace or air conditioning, as well as a barrier free house, accessible with wheelchair.

Look, we are now well prepared for the future!

Neil, you can now have a peace of mind!! (Neil is 68 years old, 6’9” tall and weighs 275lb!!)

It all started with Neil’s injury…but, to tell you the truth, I did enjoy every aspect and every process of the project…..especially designing and choosing materials…..except the money part, of course.

However, what really matters is what happens hereafter. We need to get involved in the new circle of people, make new friends, and start contributing to the new community…..with God’s help….. I feel dizzy when I think of starting all over again from scratch…..introducing myself, finding people I like, getting involved in activities….. Who would be my new friends? What kind of life is waiting for me? Looking forward to it, but at the same time, I am sighing…… How exhausting……😢

何年前だったかな? うーむ… ま、いいや…ともかく数年前にある出来事が起こった。日本にいる最愛の甥の結婚式にニールと私二人で出席することになっていた。出発の間際にニールがいつも歩いている散歩道で足を踏み外して足首の骨を折ってしまったのだ。あんまり急で、結婚式を今さら欠席するわけにもいかず、とりあえずニールが数日過ごせるように支度をして、私は一人で日本に飛んだ。

式が終わって急いで帰国したら、哀れなニールが私の顔を見るなり宣言した。「引越しするぞ」

「ええ?」正直言ってショックだった。ライオンズベイに引っ越してきて2年もかけて改築したばかり、家も街も大いに気に入っていた。

「ちょっと!いい加減にしてよ。」でも確かにそうだった。現実的に考えて、何らかの理由で歩けなくなったら玄関はともかくトイレにも行けない我が家。寝室に行くのも階段、キッチンに行くのも階段、玄関を入ったらすぐに階段。階段の登り下りができなくなったらにっちもさっちもいかない。そんなことに今まで考えも及ばなかった馬鹿さ加減に我ながら呆れた。

それから、頭の片隅に引越しの言葉がチラつくようになった。

もう決して若くない私たち2人のこれからの人生にとって何が大切なのか、真剣に考え始めた。

大切なのは健康、心の平安、子供たち孫たちの幸福、友達、コミュニティ、適度な知/文化的な刺激、生きがい、人の役に立つこと。などなど。

結局パウエルリバーが私たちのコテージのあるタクセーダ島に近くて、土地も安くてよいかもしれないと思い始めた。

昔々カナダの建材を日本に紹介する仕事をしていたときにバリアフリーの家について記事を書いたことがあった。取材しながら、歳を取ったらバリアフリーの家に住みたいなと漠然と思っていた。

そんなある日、偶然にもトラックキャンパーのセールスをしているゲリーと出会った。彼はパッシブソーラーハウスを自分の手で建てたという。彼の家を見せてもらって感心した。それからパッシブソーラーハウスなるものを研究し始めた。ちょうど時を同じくしてスクアミッシュの業者が『パッシブハウス』をバンクーバー島で建てたとの記事を見つけた。(パッシブソーラーハウスはパッシブハウスの前身)すぐにその業者に連絡をとって話を聞きに行った。と、その辺までは順調に進んだもののそこからが大変だった。まず、そんな家を建ててくれるビルダーが見つからない。我々もビルダーもいくら建設費がかかるものやら見当がつかなくて予算が立たない。

一度はあきらめかかったけど何とか気を持ち直しながら交渉を続け、最終的にはパウエルリバーのローカルのビルダーが請け負ってくれることになった。彼にとっても大変なリスク、勇気のいる決断だったに違いない。匙は投げられた。私の末娘に子供が産まれて家を探しているところだった。バンクーバーで家を買うのは若い人たちにとってほぼ不可能に近い。そこでひらめき❗️ライオンズベイの家をほぼ60%末娘に売却したら彼女にも家ができ、我々にも建築費ができる。残りの40%は投資になるし、孫の顔を見に行った時の宿泊先にもなる。

そうして工事が始まった。希望に満ち満ちて明るい顔をしていたちょうどその頃、コロナ騒ぎが始まって全てが止まってしまった。物も人も動かない。工期がどんどん遅れ、資材がどんどん値上がりして建築費の予算が大幅にオーバー、でもここまで来たらもう後戻りはできない。。。

と、私の血圧が上がりっぱなしの4年間。

やっと今年7月に引っ越しできる目処がついてパウエルリバーに引っ越してきた。私たちの新しい家は暖冷房のないパッシブハウスであると共に、段差がなく車椅子でも生活できるバリアフリー。

ここまで準備したら、現在68歳、身長207センチ、体重125キロのニールの老後も少しは安心だろう!

ニールの怪我から始まったこの騒ぎ、ニールのためとは言え、私もデザインとか資材の調達とか、昔とった杵柄、建築の過程をこよなく楽しんだのだった。

でも問題はこれからだね。新しいコミュニティーで新しい友達を作って何とか社会に貢献していけるようにならなければ。また一から努力を始めて人の輪づくりをしていくのかと思うと気が遠くなりそうな今日この頃。どんな人たちと知り合って、どんな生活が待っているんだろう。楽しみである一方でため息も出てくる。。。

はあ、しんどい〜〜🥲

Author: Haruyo Abramson

I'm a musician, mom, and grandma, living in BC, Canada with my husband and three dogs.

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