I knew this when I started the conversation but Dad had lived on a farm his entire life. It wasn’t an easy talk.
But in his later years, his weak legs and fading memory restricted him. Although he no longer was in charge of the fields, he had a few acres around his house that were being overrun with weeds. Fences needed repairs.
Dad couldn’t keep up anymore.
“Maybe we should talk about moving to a place that wouldn’t take any upkeep,” I suggested to him one day.
He bristled. “I’m not moving to town.”
“But it’s getting harder for you to keep up around here. We could find an easier place.”
He lifted his chin as a new idea pushed into his mind. “You kids can take care of this place.”
My brothers had both moved too far away to help, which meant Dad was referring to my husband and my sister’s husband.
“We don’t have time to keep up with our own places,” I said.
“Family should take care of family,” he said.
I wasn’t sure how to answer him. Both our husbands were hard-working guys submarined with their jobs. Adding the upkeep of Dad and Mom’s place wasn’t an option.
But then Dad brightened again. “I’ll just hire somebody to do it.”
This meant hiring one of the neighbors who had a big tractor-mower rig. “That’s a great idea,” I said. “Why don’t you call somebody and have them mow? Maybe once a month would keep those weeds under control.”
“I’m gonna do that.”
He never did. At his age, even making those arrangements was too difficult.
He did eventually move to town, which is another story for another time.
But I’m glad I let him take charge of the problem that day. Even when he didn’t follow through, at least he had the dignity of the choice.