I'm currently in Aurora, New York, where I was born and raised until I was 9, and then returned to each and every summer until we sold our family home after my dad's death.
My dad was born and raised here as well, in fact you pass the very house that he was born in on your way out of town if you're going south. He lived here for 59 years straight, until we moved to Baltimore for my mom's new job. Suffice is to say, it was not easy for him. Baltimore is a big city, Aurora is not. You know everyone in Aurora, in Baltimore you do not. He loved his family, but he missed his hometown.
But my parents reached some sort of compromise, I guess, although I was unaware of it at the time. My father would return to Aurora from May through September (or thereabouts) and we kids, my brother and I, would spend all of our summer vacation up there. My mother would get there as much as she could, but she was working.
(Thinking about this arrangement now, with three children and a full time job of my own, it was probably something my mom relished, a few weeks uninterrupted by anyone's needs but her own.)
But I digress.
My dad was Aurora through and through. And his brothers were too. Two of the 3 of them anyway. They all lived here their entire lives. In fact, my uncle is still living in the Aurora home that the family moved to in his early childhood. He is 83 years old. He's been in that house for more than 80 years. 80!
Sadly, he doesn't often leave this childhood home anymore. He's saddled with advanced Parkinson disease, which makes locomotion difficult, to say the least.
He took a fall last year, and spent the night on the floor until his caretaker found him confused the next morning. He was taken to the hospital, then moved to a rehabilitative care facility.
Suffice is to say, it was not easy for him.
He wanted to go home. To Aurora. To his house.
The folks at Mercy Rehab did not agree. Not one bit.
He needs round the clock care they argued, he could fall again, he should not be living alone.
Shouldn't he be? He's lived his whole life in his Aurora home. Where else should he be? He's a very private man in his 80s with the resources to pay for in-home care, why should he not be at home?
My mom, the rockstar that she is, flew up there and busted him out of Mercy Rehab. We had a pep talk before one of the rehab showdowns, because the social workers and medical folks can be down right intimidating, casting doubt on what you know in your heart is true. But she and my brother and I agreed whole heartedly with my uncle. He has the right to go home.
He's remained at home ever since, and I've seen him each day of our stay. Granted the space in which he lives his life has become very small. His life has become, more or less, one room of the house that he's lived in for 80-plus years. But he has his phone, his TV, his special remotes, reclining chair, and bed all right there. A bathroom has been built adjacent to the room. He has a view of beautiful lake Cayuga, and hummingbirds that visit all the day long. There are no lack of squirrels, or birds, or other critters to ponder, and he has 83 years of life of which to reflect back on.
He has three women who care for him, and snacks and water by his side all the time.
Is he happy in his house in Aurora? That I don't know. Watching your body betray you cannot be an easy task, and there probably mornings when it all seems rather useless, but he's at home, in Aurora where he belongs.