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Caring For Family Across The World

Do you ever get a little tired of the regular visits to your aging family members, whether they’re in a retirement home or still living in the house you grew up in? Perhaps you feel that it wouldn’t hurt to skip the occasional trip across town after a long day at work or running around after children.

There are thousands of adults who envy you the ability to see your elderly parents so often and so easily. For us, a visit to see our loved ones is an infrequent luxury, requiring spending a lot of money and using up precious vacation time.

Caring for Family Across the World

There are many things that can cause us to move away from the town, province or even country that we grew up in. It could be an exciting job offer, a new relationship or just the need for a fresh start. Whatever the reason, we weigh up the pros and cons in our heads and we up roots for a new beginning and hopefully a better life.

In 1989, I walked away from my parents in Glasgow airport and flew off with my husband and 18 month old daughter for a new life in Canada. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Making it harder, was the fact that my father had already had one bout with cancer and time with him seemed more precious now. I told myself that my family could come and visit and I’d go back for regular vacations. It would mean fun and adventure for everyone, right?

Not surprisingly, it didn’t work out that way.  Life was soon full of household bills, car payments and another baby. Although my parents did come to visit us once, we were in no financial position to go back home. Special birthdays and family celebrations happened without us. We had to be satisfied with photographs of occasions we wished we’d been a part of.

The stress of being far away from family and friends soon put a strain on our marriage and my husband bought a one way ticket back to the UK. As a single mom of very young children, going home was out of the question. Sadly, my father’s cancer returned and by the time he died in 1993, I hadn’t  seen him for two years. It broke my heart not to have been with him.

I remarried and remained in Canada, but the fear was always in the back of my mind that my mom or sisters would get sick. I was determined not to have the same regrets about them as I had about my father. As the children (four of them by now) grew older, I was able to start up a small business. My husband and I agreed that annual trips home for me were a priority now that money was a little less of an issue.

In 2006, my sister found out that the breast cancer which had been “successfully treated” in 2001 had returned. This time she was in for a real fight. In the spring of 2011, my mother found out she had inoperable cancer. A few months later, my sister was finally taken off all treatment. She passed away in July 2012.

— Elaine Morgan


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How do you handle being in one place when you so desperately want to be in another? Do you travel frequently and juggle two lives for a while or do you visit once just to say your goodbyes? What would you do...or what did you do? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
Related:

Caregivers of the Aging

The Cost of Being a Caregiver




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