They’ve been threatening it for years, “when we retire we’re going to move to Texas,” but when my parents retired a few years ago no move was made to leave the suburban Chicago area. My sister still lived up there, and my dad’s brother was still in the area. The status quo remained for a while.
Last fall my sister announced that she would be moving to Austin in the spring. Most of her business could be conducted over teleconference and she has really grown tired of Chicago winters. I don’t blame her, it’s one reason I’ve never wanted to move back. Another reason was that I was over 1000 miles from my parents.
Then my uncle passed of a heart attack. With no family remaining in the Chicago area, this was my father’s final excuse for staying up north, and they almost immediately began making plans to move down to Texas as well. Damn.
Don't get me wrong, I love my parents. I love them even more so long as they’re in Illinois and I’m in Texas. It’s not that they’re not great and lovely people, they are, it’s that I always feel like they’re disappointed in what I’ve done with my life. That constant judgement really wears on a guy.
When we were growing up, our parents set really high standards for me and my sister. They had worked hard in school and received advanced degrees, and continued to work hard to become successful in their fields.
Our father began his life as a dairy farmer in Wisconsin, and through frequent trips to see our grandparents never let us forget just how far he had come. He was always humble about people calling him “Dr. Bill” but they did, and he did earn that PhD after his name. One of his greatest assets had always been his understanding of the working man, since that was where his life had begun, but it always seemed that deep down he felt that if he could get as far as he had, we had no excuse for failure with a much better start in life.
Mom is as much of a problem as our dad is. She has a Master’s Degree plus more than 100 college credit hours. She taught English, Journalism, and History at both the high school and college level. The pressure to do well in the humanities through school was immense. We had not only our teachers grading our writing, but our mother. Talk about pressure.
Together they’ve done very well for themselves over the years. Any failure at all on the part of us kids was felt down to the bone.
Just last week they flew down and found a house. Now they’ll live across town from me. My sister says that it’s my turn to deal with them.
When they were here last week, dad was talking about how he had only told one person outside of the family about the impending move. He felt that he didn’t want to lose any potential clients from his food safety consulting business, but his one main customer needed to know, since they always paid his full expenses when he went to their sites. He’s 73. He should be retired and complaining about crabgrass and kids on his lawn, not out soliciting for business. He even went into the reasons for the move, though he admitted to me that he didn’t really need to. I’ve been here for 20 years and all of his grandkids live here.
Change is a constant, though I don’t have to like it. So for now, I smile and welcome my extended family to their new home. Or then again, maybe it’s time for me to move somewhere else...