“Do you ever think about what it would be like if things were different?” my husband asked yesterday.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Like, what if the job in Hershey had worked out,” he said.
Ah, yes, the job in Hershey. In 2005, Bud had taken a job in Hershey, PA, that turned out to be not exactly what it looked like on the surface. In fact, we found out later that he had been one of a string of people who had walked through that revolving door and walked out again within a few months. The toxic work environment hadn’t been evident at interview time — but he saw canaries dying everywhere in that departmental coal mine after he started.
Five hours away, I was home with the children. Our oldest had started college, but our youngest was not yet two. I started having back spasms from the stress of trying to homeschool while keeping our house clean enough to show to prospective buyers.
“I try not to think about Hershey,” I told Bud. “That was a stressful time.”
“But if we were there, you wouldn’t be here,” he said wistfully. He and I both want to be together again.
After Hershey, my husband took a job in Binghamton, about an hour and a half from Cooperstown. Our Cooperstown house sold and we bought a house in Greene, an hour and fifteen minutes away from Cooperstown
The process of moving to Cooperstown to help my father happened in small steps. First, I started coming once a week with the girls to help him with my mother. Then twice a week. Then spending one overnight. Then for the summer because the kids had jobs in Cooperstown.
It was like boiling a frog, raising the temperature one degree at a time.
Caring for my parents became a larger and larger job, but I didn’t see a good alternative. I still don’t.
Before the fall when I actually moved here to stay with my father, my husband and I discussed the options.
“I think I’ll be able to work remotely when we get this new computer system in,” he said.
Sometimes I AM wishful about that — because it still hasn’t panned out.
During the first fall I lived here with the girls, my father had a fall in which he hit his head. It caused a subdural bleed. A month later my mother died. The doctor told my father he couldn’t drive anymore. My father had brain surgery. I was so glad I was here for all of it.
But the journey of aging only goes in one direction.
I love what I do, though. I love being able to help people I love. I know this is a privilege; not everyone has the support or the means to do it.
Every day, I am grateful that I can.
One small change would make it the perfect job — to have my husband here with me.