Episode 705 (039) Moving to be close to children
This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.
My mother never drove a car – except way back before they required a driver’s license. She was dependent on one of her children to take her to the grocery store, the doctor, or to see her relatives. She was lucky in that she lived in a small town and could walk to her pharmacy, her church, and her friend’s houses. She was a pretty independent woman but as she grew older the need for some assistance was clear. One or more of her children provided that help. She was fortunate. Fortunate in more ways than one: she celebrated holidays, birthdays, times of trouble, and moments of joy with her family –at least part of it
Brenda and I both drive. We bike, lift weights, practice Tai Chi and walk where we will. We are not in need of assistance at the present. But, we are feeling the need, or desire, for family more each day. My wife constantly talks of trips to see the grandchildren. She has a compulsive drive to always check in and see how the little ones are doing. She calls them. She makes them gifts; buys them gifts. She makes them cards. She sends them pictures. She asks for pictures. As one grows older the family ties seem to be ever more valuable. We have achieved the life dreams of house, car, furniture, trips to foreign lands, etc. We start to realize that they really no longer draw us like they once did. The desire for family grows stronger each day. There is something about blood. We want a chance to sit down with our own son, and daughter, and to share in their lives and the lives of the grandchildren. We want to help, and we want to celebrate.
This dilemma is starting to become personal in my own life. What’s a person to do? Move? Leave the community that you know and follow your children across the country? Or, perhaps encourage your children to move back to your community. That doesn’t seem like a very wise nor fair thing to do.
All moves are fraught with problems. For our kids to move families in our direction it would mean finding new jobs; not the easiest thing in the world. They have established careers and homes where they are. It is not an easy task to pick up and move an entire family over a thousand miles. As for us moving, that is much easier. We are retired. We could easily sellout and hit the road. The problem there is that we chose this place to live after our working careers ended because it was such a desirable place to live. We would have to give that up. That could be done. It would just require a mental adjustment to fit the physical move. At this point in time, that is starting to look like a very likely possibility.
As retirement moves into the truly aging phase moving becomes something else. It isn’t the desire to live close to your children as much as it is health problems that become more of an issue. You need help. Help with your daily living: getting to the ever increasing medical related places - pharmacies, doctors, hospitals, and testing facilties. Then there are the tasks around the house that require attention that you have always performed on your own that now require help. Service trucks seem to always be in front of one house or another on our street. Money really helps at this point in life. And of course you are well out of the employable phase of life. I can see why this tends to encourage movement towards one’s children. And of course there is the loss of one’s spouse that leaves you all alone which can be a major factor in deciding to relocate.
I recall a story I heard from my brother who was on a bike trip in the Rockies. He said he struck up a conversation with another fellow traveler in a small Wyoming town up in the mountains. They were all retired. The stranger told of having moved to be close to her children. Then the job transfer came and the children moved. She followed. Then it happened again. Her advice, “Never move to follow your children. Their lives are young and may yet move them in many directions. It is a losing cause.”
I’m reluctant to make a change. Her argument makes sense to me. So, the dilemma remains. Modern life demands mobility for education and employment. The family is uprooted. The extended family is a casualty. It all seems pretty academic until it happens to you. Suddenly, one day, it all becomes very personal.
Let me know if you have faced this dilemma. I will be glad to pass your comments along to listeners. Maybe there is a solution that many of you have already discovered.
For Retirement Talk, this is Del Lowery.