When I decided to move back to Ponte Vedra from New York City, my youngest daughter, Rachel, who lived in California, was contemplating a move as well. Her job was unfulfilling, her good friends had moved away, and she wanted a change. Over the course of several weeks we talked about the positives of her moving to Ponte Vedra — mainly that our family would be closer together. My eldest daughter, Liz, and son in law, Michael, are here, and my grandchildren are not far away. So, minus son and daughter in law who live in New York City, it would be nice to be able to spend more time with family.
Rachel was hesitant because she would have to secure a job first and that wasn’t easy being on the West Coast. Since I have an extra bedroom that was formerly my study with bath attached, I suggested that she move in with me along with her dog that I adore. We both acknowledged that we were comfortable living alone, and that it would be a big change, but agreed that the arrangement would be for as long or as short a time as we wanted it to be, and most important, it would temporarily relieve her of the pressure of having to choose any job just to be able to pay the rent.
Nearly two years later we’re still together. Mother and daughter under the same roof again has presented some problems and alleviated others. Those are stories for another time. The truth is that we are happy with the present situation for as long as it lasts. Rachel would do well on her own with the wonderful job she has, and she may very well decide to leave one of these days. But in the time we’ve had together we have been of help and comfort to each other up close and personal when ‘stuff’ happened, and because of ongoing honest dialogue (most of the time) our relationship has grown stronger and we are both the richer for it.
I am fiercely independent and the hip replacement surgery I just had made it difficult to do many things for myself for many weeks. I had home health care in order not to have my daughter as caregiver, but, even so, by virtue of the fact that she is living with me, she is my ‘go to’ person if I cannot do for myself. These facts have lead to some new conversations regarding the nature of my aging process. How I see it and deal with it. My fears and concerns. How she is dealing with her feelings and worries about having an aging parent, regardless of my independence.
So, here’s the point of this column today. We parents who are growing old, especially alone, have feelings we need to air to those who will be responsible for helping us age well and with dignity, most probably our children. And our children have theirs, and we need to make certain that we truly understand each other... What we want and don’t want for ourselves... What our children want for us... What we will be able to do financially for ourselves and what we won’t. In my column next week I will be joining with my daughter Rachel to write from our varying perspectives on this subject of aging. You will be invited to join the conversation with your own thoughts.
Until next time I leave you with this: My wishes for a Happy, Healthy, Joyful and Bountifully Blessed New Year.