My parents never stayed in one place for long. As you may have read in my post Dreamsicle: Longing For Home, by the time I was 6 years old, I was living in my fifth home.
Spoiler Alert: By the time I was 12, I was living in my tenth home.
More than once, they ran away. When we left our home in Luray, Virginia, we packed up what we could squeeze in the car and left in the middle of the night.
When my folks moved from Northern Virginia to Southeastern Virginia, where my husband and I had relocated our family, they ducked out on their mortgage, got a no-doc loan on a new property, and didn’t tell anyone they were moving. My father’s family was unable to reach them to let them know of the deaths of my paternal grandfather and, a few months later, my father’s younger sister.
Putting down roots
The longest they ever lived anywhere was in that house in Southeastern Virginia. They lived within a mile of our home, enabling them to spend time with my sons, their only grandchildren at the time.
When they finally moved from there, it was my idea. Over the years, they had refinanced and refinanced until their $90,000 house had a $180,000 mortgage. The last loan they took out was an interest-only loan. My dad had had a stroke and no longer did much of anything besides sit in front of the TV watching Fox News. The house was situated on nearly 2 acres, and with an interest-only loan, they had all the responsibilities of being homeowners, with none of perks. If they refrigerator went on the fritz, they were on the hook to replace it, but not only did they have no equity in the house, they were significantly underwater. They were paying a lawn crew $300 a month just to mow their grass. It made no sense for them to stay there.
I found them a cute little over-55 community, only a couple of miles down the road, convenient to everything, including the grocery store and the hospital. All the apartments faced in toward a courtyard, making it easy for neighbors to interact, and there was a weekly activity schedule. I knew my mom was lonely and hoped they would make some friends.
We started the process of getting the bank to approve a short sale. It took a couple of months, but we finally found a buyer and the contract was signed. Then one day I got a frantic call from the realtor telling me my mom had called the bank and told them to stop the process, that my folks had changed their minds and didn’t want to sell. The realtor was furious, I was apoplectic, and my parents were lucky the buyer exited gracefully and didn’t sue them.
Another year went by and they decided that I’d been right, that they needed to sell, and we started the process all over again. This time it took 8 months to close the deal. In the meantime, we moved them into their new apartment.
Old habits die hard
Unfortunately, my dream of them socializing and getting to know their neighbors never came to fruition. My dad ventured outside of the apartment only to go to doctors’ appointments. He was otherwise still glued to the TV.
They had lived there for a year when my oldest son went to visit them one day to tell them he was getting deployed. My dad turned to my mom and said, “What does this mean for our trip?” That was literally the first we had heard about any trip. My mom tried to play it off as if my dad didn’t know what he was talking about, but eventually she confessed that they had decided to move to Colorado, where my brother lives, to be closer to their granddaughter, who was then 13.
Three weeks later, they were gone. There is no doubt in my mind that but for my dad slipping up, they would never have told me they were leaving. That was in August. The following Thanksgiving, my dad was hospitalized. Our Thanksgiving dinner was spent discussing whether I should try to find a flight to Colorado. In the end, I didn’t, partly because what should be fairly simple is made more complicated by the fact that they live in a remote part of the state — 3 1/2 hours from the nearest major airport — plus the fact that I don’t like to fly, don’t want to do the trip alone, and for a solopreneur like me, there’s no such thing as a paid day off.
Time to put it to restAfter nearly two years of wringing my hands over how this all played out, I have decided to close this chapter in my life. The reason is because I need to move forward. As I write this, we are expecting our first grandchild. We plan to relocate, after 26 years in this town, to be closer to my son and his wife so we can be a part of the child’s life. Our other son is moving with us. I have plans and goals for my business, and I feel as though I’ve been significantly held back by the conflict I’ve felt about my parents.
The fact is, they left me, and they did so without so much as a backward glance. My parents are now a part of my past. I’m no longer conflicted. I’m at peace with it.