Coun­try diary:

Wendyl opens her home to Mum and Dad

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - NEWS -

When I used to dream about liv­ing in the coun­try, I have to ad­mit the de­sire was largely fu­elled by my wish to live a very soli­tary, quiet life. I was born and bred in Auck­land and spent most of my life rush­ing around ea­gerly try­ing to ful­fil ev­ery lit­tle goal my head could think of. Hus­band, ca­reer, chil­dren and mort­gage drove me at a re­lent­less pace for years, un­til fi­nally I just wanted a quiet place by the sea to chill out. My chil­dren were all adults, my hus­band felt much the same way and so… we es­caped.

Since then I have found that the soli­tary, quiet life is all very well, but one of my great­est joys is shar­ing it with others. We have a lot of visi­tors and I love see­ing how well and re­laxed they are after a few nights with us.

But that is all about to change be­cause in a few months I will be shar­ing it more per­ma­nently with my par­ents, who are mov­ing up to live with us.

When we first looked at this house I noted the cot­tage on the other side of the garage. It is self-con­tained and has the best views in the whole place. “We might need that for our par­ents,” I whis­pered to my hus­band Paul, who nod­ded in agree­ment. We said no more. The pos­si­bil­ity seemed a life­time away.

Now in their mid-80s, my par­ents are still in­de­pen­dent, but the time has come when they need to be near, rather than far. Things are be­com­ing more dif­fi­cult to get done and there are falls, mis­takes and mis­un­der­stand­ings, which can lead to life be­ing a bit harder to or­gan­ise than it was. It’s a sit­u­a­tion a lot of my friends are also in – chil­dren are off their hands, but par­ents are now in the pic­ture.

For me, it is a won­der­ful chance to share this place with my fa­ther, who has al­ways had a dream of liv­ing some­where like this but never been able to do it. He also loves noth­ing bet­ter than sit­ting and watch­ing the view, and he is a great help around the prop­erty, shar­ing my vi­sion for the gar­dens and able to look after the chooks when we are in the city or over­seas. My mother has been slower to come to the party, un­der­stand­ably re­sis­tant to change and leav­ing be­hind her bridge club and friends. But then she re­alised that most of her friends were now gone any­way. “There’s not much to keep me in Auck­land,” she said. “But I’ll miss it.”

I’m also glad to have the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn the many favours my par­ents gave me when they loaned me money, gave me a home dur­ing re­la­tion­ship break-ups, were al­ways there to give ad­vice and took my chil­dren off me while I had much-needed breaks.

It’s very much my time to give back, so we’re busy do­ing all those things you have to do at the later stage of your life, like sort­ing out whether to rent or sell their house in Auck­land, what fur­ni­ture and be­long­ings to keep, and check­ing on the health care avail­able nearby.

For Paul and I it will mean some changes to our life­style. There will be no more wan­der­ing around in var­i­ous states of un­dress, safe in the knowl­edge that no one can see us. Don’t worry, we’re not nud­ists, but some­times you just don’t want to wear too many clothes in hot weather!

And we are try­ing to work out how to have my par­ents liv­ing with us as neigh­bours, not flat­mates – an im­por­tant distinc­tion. It is vi­tal to them that they cook their own meals and do their own shop­ping. The last thing they want is to lose their much val­ued in­de­pen­dence.

At the same time we need to know that they are cop­ing and have ev­ery­thing they need – so we’ll have to work out a check­ing-in sys­tem. I have a feel­ing this will be pop­ping in for a quick cof­fee and chat in the morn­ing, join­ing them for their daily glass of wine in the evening, shar­ing meals now and then and, for me, hav­ing a game of Scrab­ble with my mum when I can. My mother is a mean player who al­ways wins, although now she is older I do win the odd game, which makes me ex­tremely happy… yes, rather shame­ful, I know.

It will all work out, I am sure, and we are very lucky to be in a sit­u­a­tion where we can do this. If I’m hon­est, I’m modelling for my own chil­dren ex­actly how I would like my later years to be. I’d hap­pily live in the cot­tage while one of our five chil­dren and their fam­ily have the big house. No pres­sure, but just saying.

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