Dealing with Long Distance

Aircraft Landing

Our lives today can make caring for aging parents so much more complicated. My elderly mother passed away a few years ago, after a 20 year struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

She lived on a small island 4,500 miles away from Seattle and was determined to end her days there, even though both my brother and myself live in other countries. The trip from Seattle to see my mother took 28 hours door to door and included a 9 hour time difference.

This made it impossible to visit as often as I would have liked, since I still had teenagers at home. The huge distance between us, in her final months was, by far, the hardest and most heart-wrenching part. Even though we had lived in different countries for decades, I felt a deep physical need to be close by when she needed me and phone calls and emails just weren’t enough.

Fortunately, I was able to be with her to say goodbye in her final days. The thing I have learned is that I know when I am older, I’ll be sure to live closer to my children for their sakes and mine. I have decided that this will happen even if it means moving from a place that I love.

(Crossposted with permission from

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