mercredi, mai 31, 2006

Mom Moves to Minnesota

On Friday of the Memorial Day weekend, TinyE and I flew to Kansas City and then rode to Lawrence, Kansas, to pick up my mom. We spent the afternoon at my brother's family's house and TinyE played with her cousins. They had a blast. They played to exhaustion. We went swimming on Saturday morning and then had lunch on the Country Club Plaza. From there, we went back to my brother's family's house and played board games and chilled. Around 5:30, TinyE, my mother and I jumped into my mom's Toyota Corolla (don't hate on her for getting > 30 miles per gallon, just get your own) and pointed the car north.

As we left the city, my mom cried a bit, which made perfect sense to me. In part it was because her grandson was sad to see her go - and expressed his sadness. But in part because my mom was born in Geary, Oklahoma, and, at a very young age, moved to Wichita, Kansas. Since then, she has always lived in the State of Kansas, but as we entered Missouri, she started a new chapter in her life, the chapter where she lives in Minnesota.

The decision to move to Minnesota was not an easy one. My mother has two twins sons, one in Kansas City, one in St. Paul, and the only thing she knew for sure is that she wanted to retire near one of them. My brother and his family hope to leave Kansas City soon to take up residence in Los Angeles, and L.A. is no place to retire if you spent your professional years in the Midwest. L.A. is prohibitively expensive for retirees.

Minnesota is not a great retirement state either. So, it was the choice between two absurd locations - one tundra, and one place that simply is not affordable. One of my mom's biggest reservations is the weather. Our winter's are long and not always mild. A lot of people who spend their entire lives here retire elsewhere or take on a winter home.

She also faces the usual moving challenges: she has to navigate the logistics of moving her house, she has to get familiar with a new area, she has to develop community and friends, she has to process a lot of paperwork related to her home, her car, her finances, etc.

And I have concerns too. My mother, who was widowed in 1975 and never remarried, devoted herself completely to parenting. For a long time her boys and their activities where the center of her attention - the center of her world. At the time, of course, I resented it. Now, with the benefit of age and the perspective of a parent, I understand.

But my mom embraced her parent role so fully, that she tends to parent still. And her sons, now 38, with their share of failures and successes, find themselves quite able to fulfill their responsiblities without the guidance their mother gives so lovingly and so frequently (and this is difficult to overstate, my mom dispenses advice at a rate that defies the laws of comunication). She also tends to parent her grandchildren, sometimes applying concepts that have been tweaked a bit since the 1970's.

I am intensely private and extraordinarily sensitive to anything that might possibly be construed as condescending, so I tend to receive advice in the most negative light. Advice is given to people who need it. People who need advice are people who are struggling. Therefore, if I am being given advice, the advisor thinks I'm struggling.

Yep, I'm deeply flawed.

Still, I truly believe that we will all adjust. Gentle candor and warm glasnost will help - and that is my goal.

And yesterday after a marathon closing, as my mom turned the keys to her new home, just 1.7 miles away from my family's humble cottage, I found myself quite happy, and fully aware that whatever the future holds, we are family and we will drive each other nuts, but when we net it all out, the positives of our closeness (geographic, emotional) will far outweigh the negatives.