Seniors: Moving Back Home is Still an Option

Apr 13th, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Under the rubric of “Dealing with Departures,” I attempted to write an article about my in-laws who are in the throes of choosing to relocate. I tried twice and somehow the computer ate what I had to say. My conclusion was that there was some demon inside the workings of this mysterious machine that did not want me to face the implications of such a subject. Maybe it was just an ordinary slip of the fingers on the keyboard, but after the second time, it sure felt as if a conspiracy was at work.

So, zippo, I changed the title and am trying to find a sneaky way to slip the subject into this column again.

It has lain dormant, this subject of relocation over the past several months . Then one day, a shoot began pushing its way through the earth of ideas. Then the fertilizer of other ideas began to cultivate the shoot until it had grown tall enough not to be ignored. There were efforts to weed it out of the garden, but it would not yield. Its roots were too deeply ensconced.

So, the ideas came and with them more ideas until the garden was replete with a whole crop to cultivate and nurture.

The idea had sprung forth from the mind of our 94 year old father and father in law. He declared, quite simply one day, that the seed he had planted had started to grow. He wanted to move back to the state of his origins and to the community where he had lived and worked out his life and career before retirement. Clearly, the hidden, if not so subtle agenda, was that, at his age, he wanted to spend his last days at “home.”

He and his second spouse had lived out some fifteen years of their retirement in Arizona. They had found a home they enjoy and find very comfortable. Three of the four daughters, now live, at least part time, nearby. He is able to enjoy his daughters, the fourth visits frequently, and often his grandchildren. His spouse and her daughter are similarly close.

So, with all that going for them, why would they choose to move along? It is a mortality thing. It is not wanting to be transported in death by plane from one part of the country to another. It is clearly the one last great choice and decision that he/they have the power to make. It is deciding to be with friends, surprisingly many are still back in Iowa, whom he and his spouse still hold in affection. It is for each of them to be buried by their first spouse. It is to recall, revisit and restore a sense of what helped make them who they are and to enjoy that while they can.

So the garden grows. Ironically, one of the daughters has planted a small garden of marigolds and tomatoes and onions along one side of the house. It thrives there, just as the idea to choose to move along has caught on and is now just as real as the produce growing at the side of the house.

Choosing to move along is not something everyone will opt to do. But it is the senior’s right, so long as common sense and cooperation among the family prevails, to exercise that right, all things being equal.

It is that last journey that all of us must decide how we will prepare ourselves and what we will do as we attempt to make it. The dignity of dying and death should be enhanced and embraced by all those who must participate in it, by deciding just how we will be a part of it.



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