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  • Dr. Ted Klontz

The Final Move

I was more than a little puzzled. Yes, we had moved. From Nashville, Tennessee to Boulder, Colorado. Ok, they say that is one of the more stressful things a person can do. Move.

Closer to son Brad and Joni. And my two young grandsons. Closer to the mountains that I have always loved. Much closer to the Black Hills of South Dakota that captured my heart and soul five decades ago. Moving into a nice home with a garage AND gas stove, finally. I would still be traveling back to Nashville doing the work that I so love. So why so despondent? Who so down? Why so depressed?

I’ve moved scores of times in my life, and except for once (when I left the house where my children were to a room in a friend’s house as their mother and my relationship disintegrated), I had always looked forward to the change. Something new, exciting, moving forward.

I guess I was raised a nomad. As a young boy my parents moved many times from a mobile home to a tenant house to another tenant house, moved in with our aunt and uncle, back and forth a number of times to Grandpa’s farm and then on to another tenant house. Eight times, I can recall, over the course of my first twelve years of life. None of them ever more than a few miles away from my grandfather’s farm.

At the age of twelve we moved into a new home in a nearby town, then to another town and another home five years later. I moved to Mishawaka, Indiana to attend college, then on to East Lansing, Michigan for graduate school, then moved to a little town near there, where I lived in seven different homes over the next twenty-five years.

Off to the Black Hills to buy a business, Tucson Arizona, and Middle Tennessee.

So, moving about is not new. At least 25 moves in my 75 years of living. Yet never, save for that one occasion I previously mentioned, had I felt this despondency that defied logic. It was an almost paralyzing darkness that was a part of my first weeks in Boulder, Colorado. When friends would call and ask how it was going, with so much enthusiasm in their voices that I did not feel, I was very uncomfortable.

I was talking with a friend about this, and they said, quite bluntly, “Well, you moved this time ‘to age in place’. This is probably it, your final move, death is next. Not much to look forward to in that.” (I, gratefully, have those kinds of friends). That hit me right in the solar plexus. I actually let out a bit of a groan. I immediately knew. They were exactly right.

True enough, we had moved to Boulder to be closer to the mountains, big sky, the west, the Black Hills that we so love. We moved to be closer to the grandchildren and family. But mostly, so that if we got into medical/physical trouble, they would be close enough to offer help and support if we needed it. COVID took away the illusion that all one would have to do is hop on a plane and help would be there. In a metaphoric way, we were moving to be closer to death.

They were right. This move was not because something bigger and brighter was on the horizon. I didn’t come for another degree, or to buy, start or move a business. I moved here to have a good place to die.

I know enough about ancient cultures to know that I am not the first one to do this, nor will I be the last.

Once this awareness sunk in, the depression, despair, and darkness lifted. Shortly thereafter, the thought came to me, “Ok, so you have little time left, don’t miss out on one thing.” And I won’t. A promise to myself that I intend to keep. A promise that is so much easier for me to keep when I can actually see the sand moving through the hourglass.


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