A life of courage, joy and independence.
Let’s tick off another day in the countdown towards the job interview which may change everything for my family and me. In this blog I want to talk about the challenges of knowing what’s best to do in the interest of the old folks in our family. To be exact my wife has a father and mother and I have a mother, all of whom are now in their 70’s and edging ever nearer the point of requiring more and better attention. My wife Yumiko’s mother has Alzheimer’s disease and though she’s doing pretty well she nevertheless requires fairly constant observation to ensure she does not hurt herself or wander away and become lost. This happened a few years back after she was invited to a friend’s home for tea some kilometers away. At the end of the party mom simply excused herself, left the home and began trek away into the hills behind the home. She left on this adventure in near freezing weather and without a jacket. As night began to fall our family began a frantic search, alerting the local police and eventually finding her before she became too cold. Her husband is still quite able-bodied though he is also not as in touch with reality as he was a few decades back and we all know that both mom and dad will do better with constant supervision at a distance. What I mean by “at a distance” is that the caregiver need not be actively on top of them at all times and can instead simply be near at hand and aware of what it going on.
My own mother is still quite independent though I worry greatly for her well-being as she often will not tell me of her real needs and she’s struggling to get by on very little in one of the most expensive areas of the United States (California). My brother is nearby though he’s pretty busy caring for his young family and I think it would be best if both he and I were in the area to look after mom together.
So what to do as we plan and prepare for this move? Though we are already pretty far down the road of making up our minds about moving back to the USA, Yumiko and I are nevertheless reexamining our options and second-guessing our earlier decisions. Should we remain in Japan or go back to the USA?
I found it helpful to break things down into the facts of our situation in attempting to resolve this issue. Here’s what I have to work with:
1. We have three senior (70’s+) parents who’s welfare needs to be considered.
2. We have six adult children on who’s shoulders this responsibility rests. Currently five of the adult kids are in Japan, living within walking distance of our Japanese parents. Just one of the adult kids is living in the USA within a few hours driving distance of our USA mom.
Given this situation I think it would be best for my family and I to return to the USA, if anything to simply provide a better balance and human-resource distribution to care for our USA mother. This would essentially give us a situation with three adult kids (two really as one is rather useless) in Japan and two in the USA. Another benefit of making this move will be the improved financial situation it will create for my immediate family which will make it possible for us to offer more and better assistance to our parents on both sides of the Pacific.
With this simple reasoning I think it’s best for us to move.
The Path of Wildness is easy to find
The course of a stream
Leaves blown in the wind
A beast’s track through the brush
And the direction of our first inclination
The Path of Wildness is an answer and response to a prescribed way of life which may leave some individuals with a sense that their living is little more than a series of pre-determined, step-like episodes between birth and death. The stages of living between these events: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, parenthood and senior are themselves natural and in accord with the needs of the species and most individuals. Many find their satisfaction in living this course and to these individuals I have little or nothing to say. Others though long for something more; something innate, genetic and seemingly calling. Adventure and change can give a degree of satisfaction and relief yet even these may seem too tame. To those who feel drawn to something beyond the entertainment and stimulation of senses I offer a walk along The Path of Wildness. Don’t bother penciling the event in your schedule, preparing a pack with goodies and supplies or even inviting a friend along, for this experience is along the course of your first inclination and you must surely always go alone.
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