A Change of Seasons
The windmill on the family farm
Somehow it is appropriate that on the first day of Autumn I am taking a very typical first step in the Autumn of Life, as I have an appointment with my real estate agent to scout out some places nearby for my parents. Mom and Dad still live on their farm, but they are long past the time of life where keeping up a big house and a 2-acre lawn is reasonable. They’ve known it down deep inside for the past ten years, but have done a good job ignoring it. My son and I (and our spouses) can only do so much from a distance, and after several in-depth discussions with them, my parents have asked for proposals for solutions from us. Today is a fact-finding foray. It is not a guarantee of the outcome, as there are a great many variables to deal with. But it is the official first step.
The picture above is of the windmill on the farm against an autumn sky. My parents have lived there for over fifty-six years, in marked contrast to how their own parents lived, which was moving from place to place according to economic necessity. They sunk their roots into that farm and that house and they are not going to transplant willingly. The only thing that would make them budge is looking out for the other’s welfare, as Dad can no longer drive and Mom is increasingly nervous about driving in less than ideal conditions, which is about 60 percent of the time; out in the country driving is imperative. Apart from that I can think of a thousand reasons why they should stay put, from their point of view.
How do you uproot a 56-year way of life? Dealing with their stuff alone will be a formidable task, and in this depressed economy it would not bring its value in a sale, which would be like adding insult to injury. They would have to change doctors, church, grocery and drug stores, and say goodbye to friends and neighbors. Their closest neighbor, who is ten years my senior, is practically an adopted son. They wouldn’t be able to watch the crops being planted in the spring and harvested in the fall, in the fields which surround their house. It’s their nest. It’s a nice clean nest with too much stuff, but the stuff is neatly organized. It’s a nest with too big of a yard and too many outbuildings, but they’ve kept it up. Unfortunately it’s also a nest too far away from everything they need to get at.
I’ve seen in other elderly people a sort of lack of surprise and shock at new things, because they’ve lived long enough to have seen it all. The biggest thing to worry about is the depression that can follow resignation. I have to proceed on the assumption that both Mom and Dad are possessed of enough resilience to make the best of things and to quite possibly get some enjoyment out of the changes to come. Lord knows they’ve both surprised me before!