Coldhearted 2

One of the more exhausting aspects of having my mother die is having to explain again and again to people that my father is not moving to Central Time, and justifying that.

He likes it where he lives and prefers living in his town over moving to unknown and uncomfortable towns just because his children live there. He is coldhearted, it is said, to privilege place over family.

This gives me some insight into all the urgent academic advice about how you should be willing to live anywhere: perhaps most people really do not care deeply about the places they live, do not form relationships with geography and soil.




Filed under Questions, Theories

13 responses to “Coldhearted 2

  1. Are you explaining this to people where you are, or all over? I once asked my parents, when they were both still alive, if they wanted to consider moving near me. My mother would have liked to be near *me* but they both flatly refused to even consider this climate. I am certain my mother did not form deep bonds with the landscape. I’m not sure about my dad; he has definite requirements for where and how he lives, but he’s idiosyncratic and not always good at explaining things that seem obvious to him, so he might be attached to particular elements that don’t stand out for me. They both moved around some as children/young people, which makes a difference, I think. In fact, I am the only one in my family who feels a visceral bond to CA, though some others are very attached to the Pacific Northwest. I think West Coasters would all perfectly understand not moving to the Midwest, with its harsh winters, but many midwesterners privilege family over all else. Not that I’m sure how one can attach to this landscape or climate, but that’s undoubtedly because I’m a foreigner here.

    • Z

      I am betting people form visceral bonds to all sorts of places. But this idea that place does not matter seems to be the brainchild of people from non compelling places … maybe?

  2. Hattie

    We have set things up so we can make the transition to living in Seattle if we have to. It’s O.K. but we prefer Hawaii, of course.

    I think your father is wise to stay put.

    • Z

      Yes. Point 1: I would rather move there than have him move here, if it came down to it. If Mom had died when they were in their 70s and I was living in N.O., I could see him possibly wanting to come down for long periods. But this is not N.O. and he is older now. Point 2: If he moves to be near one of us, he should go to St. Paul, MN — it would work out better for all sorts of logistical reasons including the grandchild. Even so, he would be in a foreign land, essentially, and he does not like the cold. It would be more fun for all to send the grandchild out for charming Californian visits.

  3. Wogglebug

    “He is coldhearted, it is said, to privilege place over family.” — Nonsense. You are just as much family where you are now. Plus, it seems to me the people saying this to you are overlooking friendships. Your father probably has lots of freinds and social acquaintance in his current home. Leaving them behind to move near ONE child (you’re the only child of theirs living in your area, right?) would actually drastically reduce his positive social contacts, while putting him through the major strain of orienting to a new place. Psychologists have found that moving to a new home, not near the old one, is a major life trauma in itself, ranking behind ‘death of a close family member’ but well ahead of ‘losing one’s job.

    I can only suppose that the people saying these things are accustomed to parents who cannot function on their own, and to ties of affection being the polite cover for ‘has to move in with adult offspring because can’t cover own rent or can’t live unsupervised’.

  4. I’m so sorry your mother died. I’m sorry, I just found out. so sorry for your loss.

    You are strong, you are a hero. I’m with you!

    • Z

      Gracias, Clarissa … but, hero? Well, I guess, maybe … considering that in early April I was the enemy who could not be allowed to visit and had to be excluded from the death of my parent, and by mid May was closing the eyes of the said deceased and signing mortuary papers. 😦 😀

      • You have survived really horrible things. That Re-education torture chamber after which you still manage to hold on to your brain was a really traumatic experience that many people would not survive. I don’t mean they’d physically die, but many would definitely relinquish their identities to the brainwashing.

      • Z

        Aha, I see. The thing is: I am from beautiful coastal California, and it helped; and my father is quite stable, which helped; and I got to go away to college and graduate school in a way in which the family could not intervene in, which helped amazingly … being allowed a sane period in which to raise myself from 17-30 is what rescued me, I am quite sure.

        My mother’s last fully coherent words to me, by phone, when I heard she was going into hospice and said I would be right out: “And you expect us to put you up and feed you, I presume? I cannot contend with you!”

        On the other hand, later, in delirium, she did say that one of the saddest things about dying was losing me. And she appeared in a dream, well again, happy, and going on vacation.

  5. meansomething

    I’m so sorry about the loss of your mother, Z.

  6. So sorry to hear about your mother. How annoying that with everything else there is to feel and think about right now, you have to deal with people second-guessing your father’s decisions.

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