Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 803 Family and Relocating

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 lived in a small town and could walk to her pharmacy, 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 many ways: she ALSO 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. makes them gifts; buys them gifts. She makes them cards, sends them pictures and asks for pictures.

Our parents die and we find ourselves wanting to talk to our brothers and sisters a bit more. We inquire about their health, their children and their retirement. We want to retain those family ties that were commonly maintained through our parents. Though time and events have dispersed us, blood continues to bind us. We want to connect. Geography usually keeps us miles apart.

As we grow older all family ties seem to be ever more valuable. We have achieved the life dreams of career, house, car, furniture, trips to foreign lands, etc. Those no longer draw us like they once did. But the desire for family ties grows stronger each day. There is something about blood. We want a chance to sit down with our own son and daughter, and share in their lives and the lives of the grandchildren. We want to help, and we want to celebrate.

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 would be much easier. We are retired. We could easily sell out and hit the road. The problem is that we have roots. We worked here or 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. We probably all know people who have gone down this road. They pack it all in and follow their children.

I recall a story my brother told of an incident that happened while on a bike trip in the Rockies. He struck up a conversation with another fellow traveler in a small Wyoming town. They were all retired. The stranger told of having moved to be closer to her children. Then the job transfer came and the children moved. Once again she packed her bags and followed. Then it happened again. Her advice, “Never move to follow your children. Their lives are young and they may yet move many times. It is a losing cause.”

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.

Now that we are well along in retirement years we find that our children are also well along in their careers. They are also well along in their personal lives. Their children are older and finishing high school or college. They all love where we are now living and would like to live in the same area. Next year our daughter’s children  will all be in college so she is planning on moving this way. Our son still has three years before retirement but he is also looking this way. Perhaps we will gain a bit of family unity in our later years. 

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.






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