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Last night my mother told me that she wants to visit her childhood home. This seems like a simple enough request. She grew up about 4 hours (by car) from here. We could take a few days and go there and back. The problem is that there is not really a home left there. The old house is gone. All of the people are gone. The farm is now rented out to someone who grows hay and peanuts. It is a totally different place than the home she was raised in.

Other technical problems include having to board the rabbits at the vet's, which will probably cost about $100 a day. My mother can't walk very well, so there is really nothing she could do after we got there. All there would be to do is to stop and look over the land that was once her home.

She is talking about bringing home her mother's old sewing machine. I doubt seriously it is still down there and don't know how we would get it (with table) back if it was. I don't know where we would put it in this old cluttered house.

My mother has been thinking much of her childhood days lately. I'm sure it is because her life is nearing its end and dementia has taken a toll. Most of the things she wants to do now make no sense to someone who knows how things are. I know that this trip makes no sense and would be hard on her and me. Still I am torn about whether to do it or not.

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JessieBelle hun try the local library archives they are a great source of photos or failing that the local press office. if the area has changed dramatically there may be some before and after pictures - the new farmer for instance may have taken some - always worth a try
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I appreciate everyone's input and don't feel like such a grinch anymore. I got even more reason not to try it when I took Mom to get her hair cut this afternoon. She could barely walk even the short distance to the car. She asked me to drive her to the front door of the salon so she wouldn't have to walk far. Her legs were very weak. If we went to her old home, all she would be able to do is sit in the car and look. I'll have to figure out some way to "take her home" in pictures. I'll ask cousins if they have any pictures of the parents when they were kids. Maybe I can put a few together for her if we pool our resources.
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I remember going back to drive by my childhood home back in the city up north, and it just wasn't the same... the big old chestnut tree in front of the house was gone, it was like someone had photoshopped it out of reality. I could see into the backyard and the pear tree wasn't there anymore. So was the grape arbor where I had my swing. Even the front of the house was a bit different. In fact the whole street didn't seem the same as all the giant dutch elm trees had died and the street looked so empty.

Made me wish I hadn't gone back to see the house :(
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I took mum back to her old home or at least where it had been - now a tower block - the old street wasn't there at all and the only other thing that was? A huuuuuuuuuge car park. Mum was OK about but I could see the sadness in her eyes. I found an old book of the area in an antique books shop which had lots of pictures of the way it was and we look at that together quite often now. I do however take her to living museums when I can afford to so she can see the way people used to live once more and relive her past.
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It's her brain not understanding the passage of time. There is a comfortable feeling that comes (for a lot of people) with thinking of the "old days" and she's reaching out for that feeling. It was probably hard times when she lived it, but we only remember the good. When we reach the end of our lives, we sometimes wish we could just start over again, and that means "going home".

I don't think any satisfaction would come from taking her on that trip to the old homestead. Maybe you can tell her that one of your cousins got the sewing machine and is using it, so it isn't there anymore.
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Thanks, cwillie. You are thinking the same thing as I am. I've told her that things are not the same, that the old house and people are gone. She tells me that the families still live in the area, though, and she knew many when they were children. Of course I know that the children, who would now be retired themselves, would not know her. She hasn't lived near them during their lives.

I really appreciate the answers. My mother has wanted to do this once or twice in the past, and I am always torn. I'm never sure if I am being unreasonable and selfish. It helps to read what others think.
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I think we would all like to wave our magic wands and fulfill our loved one's desires, but in reality we can't. Have you explained to her that the home is gone, that there is no one there any more? If she understands she will accept that it is just a nice fantasy, and if she doesn't then it is still just a nice fantasy and she will never accept the reality.
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Thanks, Pam. I wish I could do that. My mother's family was pretty primitive. Their transportation was a wagon. They didn't take many pictures until some of the kids grew up and started doing them. We have a lot of pictures of family get-togethers after everyone was married with children, but very few from the younger days. It is probably that way for many of the poor Depression-years small farmers in the South. Cameras and film were a luxury and taking pictures didn't put food on the table. It must have been an interesting time. My grandfather always managed to keep food on their table, though, so they did okay.
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Instead of taking her back, can you find old pictures of the place just the way it was? Old photo albums, old 8mm movies whatever you can dig up to revive those pleasant memories. It's very common for any of us to wistfully want to be a child again, when life was uncomplicated and free.
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