Mom turns eighty-nine tomorrow, and her reward is that her children are asking her to vacate her home of thirty-four years, and move down to Willits. It’s not that Willits is a bad place; after all, Mama’s doctor is there and so is her church. Also, one of her sons lives in Willits, as does one certain fire-fighting grandson, so there is support for Mom in Willits. It’s still not her home.
So why does she have to leave Bell Springs? We asked Mom to relocate because we were concerned about her health and safety. There are nine of us “children,” though Eric, the oldest “child,” just turned sixty-five, so maybe children is not the best choice of words, but we were all in agreement. Last winter was prohibitively harsh, and Mama’s little Ford Escort was simply not up to the task.
I have asked her why she does not capitulate, and buy a four-wheel drive vehicle, but she has a ready response: “I just won’t drive in the snow.” Well, last winter, that meant a lot of not driving, because we had a great deal of the white stuff. From my house, it is a ten minute walk, or a three minute drive, to Pauline’s house, but in three feet of snow, the only means of transportation available is the quad.
When I was thirty, it was a point of pride to me, that I was always able to get from my house to the folks’ house overland, via foot. Now it has become a matter of pride, that I recognize my limitations, and avoid situations that can prove costly, to a guy almost sixty. When the snow turned to rain for twenty-four continuous hours, saturating the three-feet-deep blanket of snow, the quad became useless.
Whereas in the dry, powdery stuff, the quad is so light, it simply skims the top of the snow, after the rain has fallen for that long a time, the quad wheels simply spin in the slushy mess. Any attempt to walk, is met with the most astonishing result. At one point, while attempting to replenish my woodbox, I found my left foot anchored, while my forward momentum produced a slow-motion swan dive.
The comical part, at least from later reflection, is that I was unable to move, once I was prone in the deep, mushy slush. Casey had to come over to me to help me back to my feet. That’s not necessarily a good thing, especially if I were halfway between my house and Mom’s place. The bottom line is that I could no longer be assured that I could get over to Mom’s in a time of crisis, and that weighed heavily on my mind during those long hours of inaccessibility, which stretched into days on more than one occasion.
There were appointments that were missed, and there were appointments which were not missed, but which caused such stress, that it left us wondering how long life on the mountain could continue for Mom, at least in wintry times. When spring arrived, and with it no respite from the challenging elements (we had to wait until June Sixth, before the rain spigot finally shut off this past season), the nine of us began communicating amongst ourselves, and found that we were unified in our support for Mom’s health and safety.
We asked her to consider a relocation, to the destination of her choice, so that we could be more certain that she would be better able to contend with the challenges of longevity. Whether she chose to come live with one of her children, or a site within easy commute of her doctor and her church, was completely up to her. We even emphasized that her home up here on Bell Springs was certainly fine and dandy for more temperate times, and that we were completely willing to conduct the move.
How often do you find nine adults anywhere, especially within a family, who all agree unanimously, on a single course of action? I still marvel at the exchanges that occurred, as we sought to find the best course of action.
How about Mom? How did she feel about being asked to vacate her perfectly good home, to relocate in another spot? How would you feel? All I can say is that our request was made out of love and concern. Besides, we all know the way to Willits.