My father has advanced Parkinson's disease, but can still function somewhat normally with support from Mom. Mom is becoming forgetful and tires easily, but is definitely the healthier of the two.

I decided to move back from Hawaii to be closer, and a temporary stay in their house happened to coincide with 3 unexpected health scares for Mom: a surgery, a broken arm, and a still-mysterious week-long hospital stay. My temporary stay came at a fortunate time, but now - 8 months later - I want to try to get on with my
own life.

I don't really see any occupational or social opportunities for a single man in his late 30s here in the isolated small town where they live. I have a good job waiting for me in a big city 3 hour's drive from here. And I've looked at real estate there and I'm excited to be my own person again.

But lately the guilt has started. Although my mother can drive around their town, she's rightly fearful to make the hour-plus drives to doctors' offices in nearby towns. My father shouldn't drive at all, but occasionally makes short trips.

They have a house much too large for their needs with a big yard that needs mowing and full of 30+ years of clutter that keeps them losing important things and forever feeling cleaning needs to be done.

I feel that if I stay here with them or in this town, I will gradually become their driver, gardener and maid while my own future possibilities dwindle. Decisions like moving to a smaller place, hiring help or going in assisted living won't need to be made if I'm there filling in gaps.

And speaking of those gaps, I'm really shocked to learn how emotionally charged simple things can become. I've lived on my own for decades. Simple household repairs and chores are things I can handle easily, but trying to fix a window or install flooring or plant flowers with a parent watching, "helping" and evaluating makes simple tasks into mindfields. I'm starting to feel like a resentful teenager again, and that stinks.

They are wonderful, sweet people when I'm not living with them. And I have genuinely enjoyed being near them again. I think they'll be just fine for the time being with one or two monthly weekend visits from me and my brother (who also lives in that big city), but I wish I could wave a magic wand and meet both their needs and my own without those conflicting.

I suppose I just wanted to vent, but if anyone has any thoughts or advice, please share.

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