I usually write about other people, but indulge me a minute. I have been a long-distance family caregiver for 12 years straight (father, mother, mother-in-law) and in the future, I will likely need and want a family caregiver myself.
My three kids are spread out across the country (Florida, California, New York), but I thought not for long. For the last year, my son and his wife have said they planned to move to Boston from the West Coast. (They were even looking at houses and apartments on the Internet.)
But this summer, The Call came. My son was offered a job in Southern California, where my daughter-in-law is from, where they had lived before their last move, and where her work is headquartered. Oh, they mentioned they were also buying a house (read “permanent move”).
I’m thrilled for my son. It’s gorgeous where he’s moved, the weather trumps Boston and the job opportunities in their fields are better. He needs to live his own life.
And yet. . .call me selfish, but caregiving is what I write about. So the first thing I thought of when we got the news was that my son and his wife wouldn’t be there to take care of my husband and me in our old age.
I also had deep pangs knowing we were not going to be day-to-day grandparents. No cheering the grandkids on at their weekly soccer games. No impromptu sleepovers. More “visitor status” then a regular and natural part of their lives.
That doesn’t mean we won’t see them. But 3,000 miles is not like hopping in a car and driving a couple of hours and you’re there. And the caregiving will have to be long-distance.
Yes, there are two other children, but one of my daughters loves Florida and isn’t moving back. My other daughter has plans to move back to Boston, but she’s single and the guy she meets may have other plans.
I’m not counting on it. I realize I need to count on myself (but then, I already knew that). Though that doesn’t mean I’m not deeply disappointed.
Readers, do you ever think about moving closer to your kids (for many reasons, including caregiving)? If not, have you thought about who will help you when you’re older? Have you come up with creative ways to be a long-distance caregiver or care recipient? Please share!