Stories of Gumption is a regular column that profiles individuals who admirably demonstrate Gumption as we define it. These are the stories of real people who exhibit gumption in overcoming personal challenges, and validate the spirit of Gumption during their journey. Let’s take inspiration from those who seize 100% personal responsibility and show us how to live a life that exhibits Gump-like character traits worthy of applause!
Historically, the elderly would stay in their homes until they died … at least the fortunate ones. Oftentimes, they were forced to leave the family house and live out their remaining days with either caring relatives or in a nursing home. This unpleasant relocation became necessary when they reached the stage of life where caring for themselves was simply no longer possible.
The old house was filled with 40, 50, 60, or even 70 years of memories, antiques, memorabilia, and lots and lots of junk. Wading through all of the stuff, giving mementos to family members, finding charities to benefit from still usable items, and filling a dumpster with everything else was a job left to the survivors. That process, while potentially therapeutic for the memories, was a task more necessary than fun.
Thank you, Dad!
Thank you for doing today what we won’t have to do tomorrow … or in five, ten, or in seventeen years, three months, and twenty-one days when you celebrate your 100th birthday. God willing, that is what we will do on your 100th birthday … celebrate all together!
This week, my father will complete the sale of the family house of fifty-eight years and move into a retirement community.
Today, I salute my father as a man who is still living his life with Gumption. At age eighty-two, he is making a bold move. Any time one starts a new chapter in life, it takes courage. Starting the closing chapters takes foresight and shows great compassion.
Thanks, Dad, for doing today what will make your next five, ten, or seventeen-plus years more comfortable for you, Amy, me, and my siblings. You are a man of Gumption. You are my hero.
Here are a few more of my personal thoughts about Dad, the family house, traditional elder care, and a new way for the elderly to care for themselves.
- Still healthy at age eighty-two. Had his knees replaced the last few years and gets around fine and dandy. Just like Lt. Dan … Dad has magic legs.
- Dad and the lovely Amy will celebrate their seventh anniversary next month. They found each other after both lost their first loves of fifty years.
- Independent, smart, and still actively thinking. Dad decided the retirement community was where he wanted to live his final chapters. About a year ago, he started telling my siblings and me about his plans. This week it becomes official.
- Dad said he wanted to live where he was close to his lifelong community and friends. He never said it directly, but I sense he didn’t want to be a burden on one of his children or feel trapped inside one of their houses.
The Family House
- My parents spent forty-eight of their fifty-year marriage in the family house.
- My older brother, older sister, younger sister, younger brother, and myself were all raised in the family house. Lots of memories. Lots of good times. Lots of love.
- In 1963, my father built an addition to the house and transformed a cramped, 900-square foot, three-bedroom, one-bath house into a comfortable, 1800-square foot, four-bedroom, two-bath house with a recreation room, much larger kitchen, and a separate laundry room. He made it livable. He made it the family home.
- The house sold after the first weekend it was listed. A single open house was held. Three offers. One at full price. It?s a testament to the fine job Dad did in caring for the house all those years. Amy?s fine eye for tastefully decorating the place surely helped.
- A young man, planning to marry and start his own family, purchased the house. He will no doubt make it his family home. I hope it serves him as well as it served our family.
- Someone asked me if it’s sad that the house sold … Sad? No. … The end of an era? Absolutely, yes!
Caring for Family Elders (traditional)
- I remember going to my mother’s mother’s home (Grandmom McKenna) and my mother’s grandmother’s home (Great-Grandmom Fox) after their deaths. My mother, aunts, and cousins all spent days cleaning out those houses and sorting through the stuff … the junk.
- I remember my father going to his mother’s home (Grandmom Weber) on a weekly basis and helping her clean her house and preparing her meals for the week. Weekly then became twice weekly. Twice weekly became every other day. The goal was to have her live out her final years in her home. My father and uncles acted as caretakers for several years. She didn’t want to leave her home.
- Grandmom eventually had to move into my parents’ home. She died within the year.
A New Way for the Elderly to Live
- Today, things are different. There are other options. Rather then living out the final years in the family home, people are downsizing and moving into retirement communities.
- The community my father is moving into is less then one mile from the family home. Friends from the neighborhood and church are now living there.
- Dad’s and Amy’s new home is Southampton Estates. It’s an entire campus/complex on 75 acres. There are 367 independent living apartments, 36 assisted living suites, and 120 skilled care beds for those who may require a higher level of care in the future. Amenities and services include: indoor swimming pool, exercise room, wood and craft shops, walking trails, formal and casual dining, a chapel, and lots more.
- Dad and Amy know several lifelong friends who have already moved there and more who are planning to move there in the future.
I’m grateful to my father for making this decision today … we (my siblings and I) will not have to go back into the family home in five or ten or seventeen-plus years after my father is gone. That job is finished.
The end of an era? Absolutely yes!
Is my father a man of Gumption? Yes … and he’s my hero, too!
Next Blog Title: Profiles of Gumption – My Siblings
Next Blog Date: September 15, 2011