Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Day with my Parents

I am laying in bed now in Sherman Oaks California in a motel next door to my parents' assisted living facility. I spent the day looking for a new place for them to live. The fundamental problem is that they are running out of money. They presently have $45,000.00. This is the remainder of the money they got for selling their house four years ago.

They bought this house when my father was 81 years old. It was the first house they ever owned. The only reason they bought it was because the apartment they were living in was destroyed by the Northridge earthquake. They had never considered buying a house but the government gave earthquake victims the opportunity to buy homes with no money down and 2% interest. They paid $156,000.00 for the home and sold it for $420,000,00.

They have an income of $7000.00 per month.

Their monthly expenses are $10,000.00. $5600.00 of this is for their room and board. $4400.00 is for the full time care my father needs in order to get through the day. They are eating into their savings at a rate of $3000.00 per month. They have 15 months more before they will be broke. My father will be 97 in August. my mother 90 in November. My sister and I have been discussing this situation, trying to figure out what to do.

My parents have been married for 67 years, The secret to their success is that my father has devoted his life to making my mother happy. I am not recommending this as the key to marital success; just stating what has worked for them. The truth is that my father really does not care where they live. His only concern, even now, is what my mother wants.

My mother is not sure what she wants. She complains about their present living conditions. She feels it is being run by a large corporation that doesn't care about the residents. They never get the food right and are constantly nickle and diming them with extra fees and charges. She wasn't happy with any of the other places we looked at. The elevator was too far from their room. There was no sink in the kitchen to wash dishes, although she doesn't wash dishes. The atmosphere was not quite right. My father couldn't care less about any of this.

I don't want my mother to sound like the bad guy here; it is only because of her that my father chooses to live. I have been watching him carefully for the last two days. It seems that the only thing that is keeping him alive is his desire to please my mother. The whole thing is a little sad.

It does make me wonder about the meaning and purpose of life. What's interesting though is that my father doesn't wonder about it at all. He just tries his best each day to do the right things. He seems to care very little about his own personal situation. He is thrilled to see me, though. When I kissed him goodby tonight his face lit up. That was a special moment. It made me happy. Maybe that's all there is.

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