I love my weekends on the road selling books. During the week I have to do the ordinary stuff, groceries, laundry, that sort of thing, and I know how I like to do it. And, of course, I need to write. I enjoy my quiet mountain life where I write, edit, rewrite, mostly alone in silence. It’s my simple, selfish life.
Next week Dave and I will be driving to Michigan to bring my parents, 91 and 92 years old, to live in North Carolina. The Fidelia Eckerd Living Center where they are “going on a vacation” is a short distance from our home. Remember my book Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog? Much of those stories happened at the Fidelia Eckerd Living Center. (www.booksbydeanna.com).
My parents have been married for 73 years. They live in the same home they bought when Dad came home from the army. I was three years old. That little town ....
It’s going to be painful. It’s a complete disruption of their lives, and ours. I expect within a few days Mom will have forgotten their little home 900 miles away. But the feeling of being displaced may still linger in a state of foggy confusion. Something’s missing; something’s not quite right. Dad, though he will be safe, will be lost. After 70 years he can find his way around that little house without sight quite easily. I can imagine how it will feel to be in a totally new environment where nothing is where it has always been; nothing is the same.
They both enjoy the outdoors, and though their balance isn’t great, they walk outside in nice weather, stroll through town, sit in their patio swing. I’ll be selling Carolina as the vacation spot of their dreams. We have a long outdoor season without the summer humidity and the long winters. This “vacation spot” even has a garden they can walk in and dirt they can plant in. I’m going to ask if we can put a bench or a swing in the garden where they can spend afternoons. And there’s ice cream!
Mom used to love to watch the birds. She still spends a lot of time looking at them out the window, but she’s forgotten their names and how to feed them. I have a hummingbird feeder to put on the window outside their new “apartment.” I think she’ll enjoy that.
Dad will have his big screen TV to watch with his eyes closed and they’ll have their recliners in the room. They’ll also have their own double bed. The only time they’ve not slept together was when Dad went deer hunting each November years ago with my Grandad and my uncles for a few days. When he was losing his sight I arranged for him to receive a Pilot Dog. He declined because it meant six weeks of training without Mom. How lovely that this facility can accommodate them in the same room, in their own bed.
Some things won’t change. They’ll still sit and walk together, they’ll eat and sleep together. I’ll still write and sell books.
Change can be good, restorative, life-giving. For many years I’ve seen them only three or four times a year. Now I will see them often. I think we’ll all enjoy this time together. This is a major event for all of us, a disruption in the ordered lives we’re used to. But it’s a good disruption in so many ways. I’m optimistic, no matter what I’m selling!