DEAR ABBY: I am a 79-years-young woman living in my own home with my
84-year-old husband, "Jack." Jack was an avid gardener who enjoyed
tending our large yard full of roses, fruit trees, and a variety of
flowers and vegetables. During the past year, however, Jack’s health
has deteriorated and he can no longer do much around our home.
have tried to take over some of the gardening, but haven’t the time or
energy to keep it up to Jack’s standards. Otherwise, I feel we’re doing
well. I still drive and keep house and enjoy our great-grandchildren. I
used to keep my home to very strict standards, but in recent years have
realized that a few dust bunnies are not a crime.
daughter, granddaughter and even our oldest great-granddaughter have
been trying to push us into living closer to them, into a smaller home
with less yard and what they believe would be less work for me.
Unfortunately, this has led to harsh words exchanged between my
daughter and me….Can
you help them understand that I have the right to continue to live in
my home as long as I wish, and the choice to move should be mine — not
ABBY suggested a reality check. You’re not getting any younger, she said. Your kids care about you. Try to keep an open mind and review your options.
Yeah, well. Let’s see if Dr. Bleedingheart can do any better.
Tell your kids to relax. There is no better place for you and your ailing husband than that garden he’s been tending. Dr. Bill Thomas, founder of the Eden Alternative, was recently quoted as saying, "What I want is an alternative to the nursing home, an alternative to
the institution. And the best alternative I can think of is a garden. I
believe that every elder should have a chance to live in a garden. I
believe that, when we make a place that’s worthy of our elders, we make
a place that enriches all of our lives, caregiver, family member and
elder alike. So the answer the Eden Alternative provides is a
reinterpretation of the environment elders live in, from an institution
to a garden. That’s why we call it the Eden Alternative."
Sure, you may need to hire in a little help. Tell those bossy kids of yours to chip in. Remind them that gardening is not work to be avoided. Gardening is living. You don’t need to move to a dull little condo that satisfies your daughter’s vision of what old age should look like. Live in a place where you can flourish. Get some helping hands when you need them. Sure, there may come a day when you have to move, but why rush it? Go outside and cut some roses, and give my best to the fruit trees and the man who planted them.
What would you say, readers?