Limits to Visiting

By , May 11, 2012

For a while now, we’ve been preparing the “homestead” for a visit we knew might not take place. We’ve been cleaning, straightening, and improving the cabin, and, especially, clearing obstructions from the trail. Our deadline is Saturday, but yesterday, we got the news: Michelle’s mom’s doctor has recommended that she not attempt to hike out to the land this coming visit.

This tears it. Dad Harris had decided on their last visit not to try to make the hike. Actually, he decided not to on every previous visit, and they’ve been coming out here about once a year since 2006. That’s Mom swinging on the rope swing in the photo on our history page. That was the trip she broke her ankle while she was out here, but that didn’t stop her from coming back.

Dad’s history of back problems, which, as they commonly do, have affected his legs, used to make him predict annually that he could not make the hike, but he would always change his mind at the last minute, and manage the long walk. Last visit, he didn’t try. Mom did, but barely made it. In preparation for their upcoming visit, she’s been walking regularly to build stamina. She even purchased a pair of trekking poles. But, her doctor has recommened she not try. Michelle’s holding out hope that the wind will cooperate for bringing her around by boat, but that’s a long shot.

We adore our home, but it is remote enough to restrict accessibility, particularly for older people. We’ve dreaded, and are now facing the fact that a growing number of our loved ones cannot make the trip. We know full well that this also means that someday, we may not be able to make the trip either.

We just have to compromise. I really hate that the folks will come all the way from the lower 48, only to stop short of our home and hospitality. The visit will require us going someplace we’ve never been, to be guests ourselves rather than welcoming guests into our  home. But, a less than ideal visit is far better than no visit at all. We’ll take what we can get.

In one of my former lives, I worked with the Alaska Commission on Aging. My duties included publishing a monthly newsletter for Alaskan seniors, so I’ve spent a lot of time addressing accessibility issues, including planning for reduced mobility in later life. Little did I know that I would soon find a home with such a forbidding, senior-hostile entryway! All we can do is keep fit and agile, practice good balance, hope for the best, and live each day as if it were the last.

I guess I should excuse myself here: with family in town, and shuttling back and forth, the blog posts may be thinner than usual this coming week. If so, I’ll be back before long.

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