"You'll seldom experience regret for anything that you've done. It's what you haven't done that will torment you. The message, therefore, is clear. Do it! Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savor it." Dr. Wayne Dyer
There was no compelling reason to stay. Friends and family became fair weathered. A disappointment often felt after a major life altering event – divorce, death, diseases. Equally amazing are the unexpected angels that become saviors.
It certainly wasn't the weather, Michigan is the third cloudiest state with winters that can last up to six months. And it's always gray. Snow and wheelchairs are a bad combination. I am always cold due to my broken thermostat which is located in the top vertebraes in the neck. My temperature registers 97.4° on a good day.
There had always been talk of retiring in the Caribbean, both Bill and I were Advanced Open Water scuba divers and had explored the area one reef at a time. We had two vacations, a total of 13 days, on Grand Cayman which has the most developed infrastructure in the region. There were two hospitals with ancillary medical services and lots, and lots of banks which must be staffed with bankers who had families. And Miami is only 60 minutes away by airplane
Somehow I rationalized that I was an expert on living on Grand Cayman, regardless that the majority of our time had been spent either underwater or at the bar. And not the sandbar at Stingray City. I rationalized that other ex-patriots lived there, so it must be possible.
What was I thinking? Moving to a foreign country, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, and not knowing a soul. Not to mention being a quadriplegic with extensive care requirements.
With blind determination, I pushed forward with my relocation plan. On a reconnaissance trip, Bill and I were able to find a school for Kelly and Kurt, a condominium. Our exploration was cut short short by Hurricane Mitch but we learned what to do when faced with bad weather – you get on a plane and leave.
The logistics were enormous to move from Michigan to a little dot in the sea. Everything for our new southern dwelling had to be purchased months in advance, railed to Miami to be loaded into a rented cargo container (8' x 20' metal box) and when filled scheduled to sail to Grand Cayman where it would be held in customs until we arrived.
Then everything in Michigan had to be sold, including our house, cars, and it's contents of acquired stuff over the past 15 years. The timing had to be coordinated so that we were never homeless, but still accommodated the children's school schedules, and my further surgery of five procedures performed by two surgeons simultaneously which was slated to take place in late June at Craig Hospital in Colorado. Plus, there was Zoe, our family cat who required her own documentation to be a temporary resident.
Everything included furniture, lamps, rugs, wall pictures, sheets, towels, pots and pans, dishes, glassware, flatware, all gadgets ranging from a potato peeler to a toilet plunger. And more, much much more.
Had I known all of the logistic requirements for this move, I would never have proceeded. But I did not. I had a vision of living under palm trees and nothing was going to distract me from this goal. I took it one step at a time and kept moving forward. It is what I tell my son when he faces a seemingly insurmountable project, "how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
We celebrated the new millennium on 7 mile Beach as temporary residents of Grand Cayman Island. Never could I have ever imagined 2 1/2 years earlier that I would be living in paradise nor could I have ever imagined that I would be a quadriplegic.