I try to view my parents as eccentric – not weird. You know, unique individuals. The beautiful part is they couldn’t care less what their children or the neighbors think. Maybe they are free spirits (or perhaps they are just denture refusing old hippies).

My husband says my folks moving into the high class, country club-esque retirement center is like a geriatric episode of the Beverly Hillbillies!

Yes, it’s true, but I love them. I can’t help it Dad turned his room into an airplane hanger – he adores his model planes so let him play! And the real deal hobby shop he convinced admin to approve (complete with drill presses, band saws, a kiln, welding gear, and a full size weaving loom) has helped the residents build crafts a bit more compelling than cutting up old greeting cards.

And so what if Mom won’t get her hair done because she thinks the devil resides in the beauty shop. The natural look is in! She’s full of love and smiles, especially when she cleans up at Bingo and wins all the candy bars. And she’s no slouch at Scrabble either.

Let them be themselves – they always have been, so who am I to judge? Live and let live.

If Dad tears around the halls in his noisy, souped up scooter, tricked out with a swap meet snowmobile engine, that’s his business. He’s not one to ride off into the sunset quietly.

And if those bureaucrats running the place get perturbed by his rabble rousing ways – what can I do?

He has discovered a terrible injustice to his elderly comrades in that this fancy pants place has doors too heavy for the residents to push open. So, he has researched the MN state regulations for nursing home doors and this expensive place is WAY out of compliance!

He knows because he tested every door in the facility with his fishing scale. He even had to buy a bigger one because the 15 pound scale was insufficient for some of these mammoth doors. Then he threatened to call in the inspectors if they didn’t fix the problem. It makes my social worker heart proud (and only slightly embarrassed).

I refuse to expect my parents to be anything they are not. I will not be ashamed! As their 49 year old daughter I only regret that I have been so slow to learn this lesson.

At 86, haven’t they earned the right to be themselves – even if that is something far outside of the norm? I am a McGillivray. We are a strange but winsome clan. For all you normals I have three words: Deal with it.

Author’s note: This trip home to Minnesota has brought me further along my journey toward “Becoming Wholehearted.” As T.S. Elliot wrote, “After all of our wandering we will arrive where we started and know it for the first time.”


  1. I have a feeling I would love to spend time with your parents… at 62 I also feel that I have a foot in both camps.. I care less and less about what someone might think about what I do but not completely. Uwe and I are both surprised that our retirement is not exactly what we imagined but the real surprise is that we like it much more than we imagined. We always saw ourselves as fiercely independent never look back sort of folks but find ourselves not just enjoying our family and friendships but needing them more and more. We want to live close to as much family as possible instead of only seeing home in the rear view mirror. We thought we would spend a good portion of time traveling internationally but worry more about our dog being lonely to do it all the time. The things I said I would never do (as I sit in exercise pants with no expectation that will change no matter what I do today) I enjoy the most but at the same time we have let go of things we thought would always be precious but we find are just unnecessary baggage- Life is a funny old dog.

    • Absolutely true Pat – life is a funny old dog. (What a delightful expression)! As T.S. Elliot wrote, “At the end of our exploring we will arrive where we started and know it for the first time.” It’s wonderful to hear the ways in which you are finding so many pleasures and surprises.

  2. Lisa, thanks for sharing your parents with us. I enjoyed the short trip to Minnesota. They are lucky to have each other and very blessed to have you.

  3. Debbie Cassettari

    Let’s hope we can all enjoy our senior years with style and verve!

  4. Thank You Lisa for sharing your adventure with your parents. They sound like a Hoot and I know I would like them. They are my kind of folks. Would love to see that souped up scooter of your dads. Thank You again for the joy I got out of reading about your great parents. And yes people need to just “Deal with it”.

    • Doris – thanks so kindly for your comment. You and my dad would have a great time shooting the breeze. Quirky people unite!

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