I am a 64 year-old divorced woman who lives with my father. Some years ago, when my marriage fell apart, and Mom was diagnosed with dementia, I moved back home to help my dad with her. I was also working part-time, so I couldn’t afford my own apartment. Two years ago, Dad and I could no longer care for Mom at home, so we put her in a care facility, and I retired. During this time, I have made new friends, three of them live in the state of New Mexico. A few months ago, I went to visit these friends, and fell in love with New Mexico. The cost of living isn’t as high as it is here, and the laid-back, small city life seems to mesh well with my personality. I feel this is the place I am meant to live the rest of my life. My problem is that Dad is 87, and I’m leery of moving hundreds of miles away, knowing there are some thugs in the neighborhood, who may try to break into the house once they learn Dad is there alone. Although I have a sister, she has never been there for our parents the way I have been. In fact, our parents haven’t seen her in seven years. Some friends and relatives say I should go for it, since I’m divorced and childless, and also reminding me I’m no longer a young woman. Then, there are those who feel I’m being selfish for wanting to make this move and finally live my own life. Am I wrong?
—New Mexico is Calling Me
Dear New Mexico,
Hello, my darling, thank you for taking the time to email me and to allow me the privilege to weigh-in on your situation. It takes a special person to care for elderly and/or invalid family members. I’m sending a big hug your way.
I want to start by sharing that my mom lived with me and my family for the last two years of her life. She had come to a place where she could no longer live alone. Was my life on hold? Yes, but I wouldn’t take a dime for that time, as I’m sure, neither would you. You’ve already lived through the thick of it, so, there isn’t much more I could share with you about the “role reversal” regarding parental care. It’s hard, it’s thankless and it’s heartbreakingly some of the best times you’ll spend with your parents, unconditionally caring for them as they did for you. It’s an honor for us, but not so much for strong-willed parents. Their eyes always seem to see you as the child they raised. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how many children you have or how many times you’ve been married. LOL.
I can’t help but think, now that your mom’s gone on to glory, that you should continue to be there for your dad. Don’t abandon him now. Stay, give him the same love and commitment you gave to your mother. Your dad, I take it, doesn’t need as much attention, but that shouldn’t determine your decision. You’re doing it just, because it’s the right thing to do. Is it selfish for you to want a break, to want to relocate and start living your own life? Absolutely not at all, that’s normal and you have every right to feel that way.
You’ve been an attentive, dedicated and loving daughter…don’t stop now. There’s no need to relocate, just yet. Take care of your Dad and, every three months or so, go visit your friends for a week or two. Sadly, when your dad’s no longer with us—it’ll be time to make your move.
I don’t have either one of my parents anymore, and I regret the extra time I missed spending with them every day, because I was busy, I had a family, I had people to see, places to go, things to do. So, trust me, you’ll never regret putting your life on hold by choosing to honor your mother and father. God is watching and will undoubtedly grant you the desires of your heart. Hold on a little longer, your day is coming. You gave and it will be given back to you in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.
My husband no longer believes in God
My husband said he no longer believes in God. He did when I met him and when we got married. We have always attended my family church and have been very active in different organizations. I just don’t understand or think we can remain married. How can I be with someone who doesn’t believe in God. I am so mad! That has always been the first “must have” on my list. My husband even stopped going to church. I am so hurt, I just don’t know what to do. Do you think I can convince him to go back to what we had and rededicate his life? How can a marriage stay together if only one person believes in God? Please help us!
— Praying for My Atheist Husband
Holy guacamole, my sister, this is an issue of enormous ramifications. Yes, it could easily end your marriage if not handled with divine intervention. You say you’re a Christian and so was your husband when you met and married, but now he wants to change his stance and he no longer believes in God. Will he consider faith-based counseling?
Listen closely as I speak softly, not tilting the taste of judgment — I think you need to be truthful about his change of belief and try to remember what life experience u-turned him towards a different direction. Who, when, where and how was someone else able to grab hold of him when you weren’t watching. I’m not blaming you, oh no, that’s not my intent. I’m merely trying to show you that one doesn’t pick a Savior in one day. We’re too savvy for that nowadays. Folks will research everything on the Internet. Unfortunately, the information no longer needs to be prophetic or true, as long as it’s printed. I’m just wondering out loud, where you were when he was searching, unraveling, disconnecting from your faith.
What’s great about America is the freedom to pick and follow the religion that suits your heart the best. Only heaven knows if your marriage will survive this, but what I can assure you that both of you deserve the proper respect from one another while you work on it. Everyone is going to hell in a hand basket according to someone’s religion. Trust me when I say, it’s better to sit on a mountaintop meditating on God and all of His glory, than it is to sit in church disengaged, thinking about taking a hike.
Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and Twitter @almaaskalma.