An uninviting discussion on moving

Arbed and Fred are a retired couple who were both involved in the helping profession for over 40-years.

I took a call from one of their children, Jules, a self-described computer geek. He explained that he worried about his parents. They were residing in their family home, which they built 50 years ago.

The multi-dwelling no longer fit their needs. Fred and Arbed were struggling to maintain their home. Jules was exploring viable options that would be safe and secure. Months of investigative work were at an impasse. He labeled them “stubborn.” What to do … what to do. His call followed a heated exchange with his folks.

He convinced them to join in family counseling.

He had his vision for them, they saw otherwise. The three family members arrived, Fred utilized a walker, and Arbed utilized a cane. They sat next to each other; Jules sat closer to the door.

Welcome folks. Arbed and Fred each wore casual clothing loosely fitted. Both wore sneakers and a New York Yankee baseball cap. Jules wore jeans, a button-down shirt, loafers, and a Boston Red Sox cap. I silently chuckled at the dynamics of sports rivals and the transfer to parents vs. son. I’m glad to meet this family. Are there other members? Jules spoke first. “Yes, I have two siblings, one brother and one sister. Both live and work on the West Coast. They are aware of the situation.”

I turned to Arbed and Fred. Thank you for coming in today. What I heard from Jules’ call to me was worry for you both. I believe Jules is searching for an arbiter. Sounds as if his focus is on a tough decision some people face at certain times in their life. What do you say, Arbed?

She glanced over at Jules sitting next to her. “You know, Jules is a worrywart. He’s always been that way. That’s the truth, isn’t it?”

Jules grimaced. “Yes, Mother, but I am worried about you and dad. You refuse to listen to reason, so I decided to call for professional help. I called a family counselor. We don’t see eye to eye. You and dad can’t maintain your place anymore. I’m there a lot fixing this and that. Petey, my wife, couldn’t be here today. She’s involved, too. She helps clean and performs painting, shopping, and transportation chores. She’s tired. You need to sell the house and find a suitable place to relocate.”

Fred, who had been quiet, jumped in, “You know, mom and I appreciate you and Petey, Jules. We know you have our best interests at heart. You are a caring soul. I feel a little uneasy having to explain our position to a stranger, no offense, sir.”

No offense taken, Fred. Please continue. “Mom and I are pretty good communicators, do you agree?”

“Yes, dad, I agree.”

“We weren’t born yesterday, obviously. You refer to us as stubborn. We’ve heard that description from you before. Yeah, maybe we are a bit stubborn. So what! What’s the rush? We love our home. Hell, you and your brother are sister were raised there. None of you came out too bad, didn’t you?”

“Of course dad; you and mom are missing the point.”

“What is the point?” Arbed inquired. “The point mom is that we want you to make a reasonable and smart decision. You need a smaller place, mom and dad.”

I looked at this older and handsome couple. Your son’s worries might be justified. I’ve not been to your home. I’m wondering what a three story home looks like? The layout, the expense, and the demands your home has if it could speak. What do you suppose it might say? Arbed, you use a cane; Fred, you need a walker to negotiate my office from your vehicle. I’m trying to imagine your home setting and how you each negotiate getting around serving daily needs. How well do you function?

Fred looked at me. “What are you getting at, Mister? Did Jules hire you to push us out of our home? If so, it’s time to leave this office.”

I assure you, Fred and Arbed that Jules and I haven’t joined to kick you out of your home. I can only appreciate your position. Leaving one’s home after 50-years may add up sensibly and intellectually; however, I’m going to believe that there’s a strange emotional component we’ve not discussed.

Arbed started to sniffle. “You know, sir, you are right. Old Fred and I, we know the whole shebang. We understand what you, my son, are thinking. We love you and Petey for your efforts. We appreciate your love and interest in our lives. We do talk about it, dad and me. The gentleman here is right. Letting go of a home means looking at years of memories. Your dad with my help built this home. It was our dream home. Our love together, along with sweat and toil, built our home. There’s a lot more that needs to be touched on that we’ve not explored. I’ve got an idea.”

“What, mom?”

“This man used the word arbiter. I wonder … Fred, you know I come up with good ideas, how about we all set up a meeting at our home. This way, this gentleman can see for himself. Maybe we can talk over a piece of my famous pie.”

Fred looked at her and smiled.

“A great idea. Let’s do it.”

Jules, I asked, what do you say? “Guess it’s all right.”

We set a date. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Marshall Greenstein, a Cassadaga resident, holds a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email editorial@observertoday.com.


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