Have you ever been faced with a decision that involves turning your entire life upsidedown?
My 83 year old father needs me and my family has asked me to move back up to the area where I grew up so Dad could live with me on a hobby farm.
Suddenly all I have been working towards may be right at my fingertips but at the wrong location on the map. My life along the Mississipi may be far from ideal but everything I love is here. Hunting, fishing, the river and bluffs which I lose myself in when I need a moment to myself. Can I find that kind of peace back home?
I have been one who is able to adapt to whatever surroundings I find myself in and some how find something to love about that place. I know I could do the same if I moved but is a move what I need?
I see in my minds eye the farm I always dreamed of owing with a barn, chicken coop, granary, and charming farm house. I see myself holding classes on cheese making using milk from my goats, canning, quilting, making hay with my own equipment, giving Dad the quality of life he deserves and a place for him to putter around.
Then I think about my life here. The backwater marsh where I duck hunt and disappear into when I need a break from the world. Russet sunrises over the water, whistling wings overhead, frost on cat tails, and feathers floating on mirror-like ponds. The deep forests of the bluffs which I climb to hunt deer, turkey, antler sheds, and morel mushrooms. Those moments of awe when oak give way to cedar groves carpeted in rubicund needles and velvety moss the color of emeralds. The view from the cliffs when you can see the sweep of the Mississippi; a seemingly slow, lazy giant whose personality is as attuned to the weather as the tide is to the moon. Long days spent on frozen backwaters pulling dinner from beneath the ice with just the cry of a bald eagle on ice kissed air to let you know you are not entirely alone.
My love for this place is palpable, undeniable, and unending but so too is my love of family. So I asked my dad today during my break what he wanted from me. He said he is overwhelmed by everything but he was thinking of selling his house and getting an apartment by Mom’s nursing home. He didn’t sound convincing, I could hear him giving up by the tone of his voice. For all our differences we are alike in the color of our eyes and the fact that we cannot be confined or contained to a vanilla apartment with no yard to care for, no view to contemplate over morning coffee, and no use for hands that itch for work.
I nervously brought up the subject of moving and he instantly started jabbering away about a Ford 8N he saw for sale and a hay rake and baler. The excitement in his voice was something akin to that of a child discussing a trip to Disney. So now, I am torn. Tomorrow he may change his mind and stubbornly refuse to leave the house he has lived in for 50 years, I never know what to expect from him.
As for me, I will do what I always do and play it by ear. And if there is one thing I have learned since Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is that the disease is more of a rollercoaster for the family than it is for the person with the illness. Mom is happy and content in her new home and she knows she is sick but makes due. As for the rest of us, the fear, uncertainty, expense, loneliness of missing mom as she used to be, and all of the sudden changes are paying a toll. I wish I could just buy a farm, move everyone in and go back to the good old days but life doesn’t work that way. So I guess you can just count the blessings, enjoy that which you do have, and adapt to whatever comes next. Never think that things can’t change because they can and they will whether you are ready or not. As in control as you think you are there are bigger hands that hold your life in their palms and you just have to trust that everything, good or bad, happens for a reason.