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Shifting Sands

Updated on April 15, 2015
Mom, Dad, Ivy and Child of Tenant three years after move-in
Mom, Dad, Ivy and Child of Tenant three years after move-in


“As we advance in life, it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.” Vincent Van Gogh

When Ivy was one year old, I persuaded my parents to move from Davis, California to Sacramento CA. My argument was that housing was more affordable and that they would live minutes from at least one of their children. I wanted it to be me. We located a ranch style home on one acre of property that was within one mile of my home. The ranch style home was on the rear one half acre of the property and the front half acre had three rental cottages. My mother turned their property into a little utopia with lovely groomed gardens and little fenced front yards. It was required that the tenants keep their gardens up to my mother’s standards. My father could fix anything and was able to maintain the houses in perfect order. A mini playground was installed and included a swing set and playhouse. A built in pool was constructed behind my parent’s house and the tenants were frequently invited to swim with their children. My parent’s property provided moderately priced, quality housing to three families with children, a pool we could enjoy anytime we wanted and odd jobs for teenagers who were willing to learn skills and work hard. After twelve years, I started to notice small changes.

When I drove down the driveway, I noticed weeds in the once perfect flower beds and vegetable garden. My father’s workshop looked less organized and he kept asking if I had borrowed tools that I hadn’t. Fruit from the fruit trees lay on the ground until the kids and I picked it up. That fall, as my siblings came out to help host the 50th wedding anniversary, we all agreed that maybe it was time for Mom and Dad to downsize.

Mom was enthusiastic, Dad, not so much, but he was perfectly willing to look at houses. Serendipitously, one of the guests to the anniversary party had pulled me aside and expressed an interest in my parents house. It so happened that this couple owned a home in a moderately priced neighborhood nearby that had five bedrooms and a built in pool. It was in a large subdivision that had five models, the five bedroom being the largest. This caused me to focus on seeking out the smallest model in this subdivision for my parents. The smallest model was perfectly acceptable to both my mother and father. Soon, the smallest model came on the market across the street and down two houses from the five bedroom owned by the couple who wanted to purchase my parents house. It was time to make a deal. The home my parents were purchasing was in excellent condition, had hardwood floors, charming brickwork and perfect exposure for a little garden. It did not have a workshop which my father dearly missed every day for the rest of his life. The five bedroom I was purchasing from the buyers of my parents house was not so pristine but that was accommodated in the price. The built-in pool that I would surround with a safety fence was definitely a plus.

I would have to resign my seat on the local school board as I was moving to a different school district but this housing situation seemed to be the best option for my family for the next few years at least.

Moving both households was one of the more difficult things I have ever done in my life. I hired movers and the kids helped a lot, but I never want to do that again. After both moves were completed, my father confided in me that he thought he would “die” in the other house and I felt very sad for him. Very soon after the moves were completed, it became obvious it was for the best and we were able to do quite a bit for one another because we were such close neighbors.

50th Anniversary Party
50th Anniversary Party

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