My Second Life

Written By: Frances  Reichert

My Second Life To the dismay of our adult children, twelve years ago my husband and I chose to move to the east end of Long Island where we knew only one other couple. Lois and I had been friends for over 50 years. We lived on the same block, socialized together, and raised our families in a suburban community where we felt comfortable and safe. Lois had summered in Southold since early childhood and upon her husband’s retirement, they moved here permanently. When it was time for us to leave the home we had spent so many years in, Lois urged us to come to Southold. Although we had visited her and her husband a few times with our kids, we did not really have any idea of moving here, nor did we really understand the implications of what this community could do for our “second life”. Our children had expected we would move into a retirement community somewhere close to one of them. We looked at a few places, but could not develop any real interest in them. We knew several couples who had retired to other places to be near their adult children, only to have these same children be transferred to jobs in other cities. Not for us! What then? So we came to Southold. Our children were not happy thinking about us moving to the “east end of nowhere.” It is too far to visit and nothing to do, so they thought. They did not know there is a special magic about this place. My husband and I call it Shangri-La. We bought the perfect home for ourselves in a small community called Laughing Water, in Southold. We live entirely on the first floor, and on the second, there are 3 bedrooms and a bathroom (for visiting children, grandchildren and old friends). At first, our children grumbled about visiting way out here, but very quickly saw how fortunate we were in our choice. The beauty and uniqueness of the North Fork left our children and friends speechless the first time they arrived for a visit. We knew that they had expected to see the same overly developed areas that exist in other parts of NY. They had no clue that we lived in the middle of old farming lands. There are vegetables of all varieties grown here, local fish to enjoy, and lovely wineries producing wonderful new and quite well reviewed wines, We have many beautiful hundred-year-old trees, and last, but not least, bays, creeks, and sandy beaches everywhere. Best of all, however, are the wonderful people who love to share the history and beauty of this area. Some grew up here, some summered here as children knowing they would retire here, and some were lucky enough to wind up here just as we did. Every new homeowner kids about being advised not to tell anyone about the North Fork after moving here, but I suspect the secret’s out. Perhaps what I am trying to say that as a resident here, I am loving my second life. It is nothing like the existence I envisioned I would be living at my age, if indeed I really pictured my elder years at all. As a child, the one old person I knew for any length of time was my grandmother who lived with us. She did not drive. She did not go anywhere unless taken by my parents. She sat all day on the couch and listened to the radio (“Stella Dallas” or “Mary Marlin, Backstage Wife”) as she darned our socks. I hope she did other things, but these are the only memories I have of her. I don’t consider Southold a retirement community. I have friends older than I am (I just turned 80), and friends who are younger. I started painting, something I had never tried, and am one of a group of very talented women painters who meet once a month to critique each others work. I write a lot more than I ever did and am finding out that spending more time at it is beneficial to the results. Sometimes I even produce a nice little poem. I enjoy the time I give to volunteer work at the local hospital. One of my jobs there is working with student volunteers. The opportunity to be around these young girls and boys is special, for I am able to see first hand the promise of their generation. So here I am living my second life in the “east end of nowhere” and loving every busy minute of it.