A scare during a weekend in paradise

View of Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe from a baot
Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe.

This past weekend I went to Lake Tahoe, Nevada for the first time. We have friends who lived near us in Palm Springs who also have a house in Tahoe. They sold their California home like we did this past year and we discovered our new Arizona homes are less than a mile from each other. We got together as new neighbors before they headed for the cool Lake Tahoe weather — and they insisted we come visit them.

Lake Tahoe view
View from our friend’s kitchen.

We finally did it! I was a little apprehensive because although we’ve been friends for years, we don’t have a “stay with them in their home” type of friendship. I’m close with the wife through our school parenting days, but our husbands have only met during formal school related events.

Anyway, it turned out to be a memorable, fun, amazing gorgeous weekend of hiking, boating, eating, touring and building on our friendship. I can’t get over what a perfect weekend it was.

Until I got the phone call.

The unknown number came in while we were on their gorgeous speed boat. The day so far had included a morning hike, mooring the boat for lunch — in front of their private country club’s lake house — a $10 million house that had been renovated as a restaurant and place to hang out on the lake. Access to it is through their golf membership — although it’s miles from the golf course. Next, we toured Emerald Bay and then anchored at Rubicon Bay, which had turquoise blue water, warm enough for a quick dip. I’m not sure where the next stop was going to be.

Turquoise water of Rubicon Bay Lake Tahoe
Rubicon Bay where we went swimming.

We pulled up anchor and were racing through the water to our next destination when I answered the call. It was hard to hear over the roar of the boat’s engines, I was breaking up to the person on the other end. I finally heard that my dad had pushed the button on the device I insisted he wear around his neck. They said they called him and he wasn’t answering. Then the phone went dead. After three attempts, I got the rest of the story. Dispatch was on their way to my dad’s house.

wake from a speed boat on Lake Tahoe

I tried calling my dad. The phone was answered but it was pure static and garbled. I tried again. No answer.

My friends told me to wait to call until they got me to a place with more bars for cell reception.

I was shaking. I felt so helpless. What could I do for my dad while racing around in an exotic boat on Lake Tahoe? How quickly could I get a flight to Palm Springs? Why had I moved away from him? Maybe my brother was right after all. My brother has been insisting that I move dad to Arizona to be closer to me. Dad is turning 90 next year and my brother said that he can’t live alone because of his age. That’s when I insisted my dad get the “help I’ve fallen button” to wear around his neck. I also hired a friend to stop by and see if he wants her to run to the store or do anything for him.

Up until that moment, I disagreed with my brother. My dad lives in a senior community near Palm Springs. He golfs three times a week, has friends (who are currently out of town), takes ukulele lessons, drives his golf cart around, and he started a new hobby of remote controlled yacht racing last year. He’s happy. He’s active. He’s engaged.

If I were to move him to Arizona, what would he do? Sit in my casita and watch TV? Or alone in an apartment with no friends? Wait for me to play golf with him at the surrounding super expensive golf courses — instead of his current situation of getting out to play a few holes at affordable rates whenever he wants? I honestly think he’s happier in his own environment. And I believe he can make a decision about where he lives. At least that’s what I thought until I got the call.

Lake Tahoe Lake House for lunch.
View from the country club’s lake house where we had lunch.

Back to the boat….I called my dad when we were in an area where I got better reception. Dad answered. He said it was a false call. He had been working on the misting cooling system on his golf cart and accidentally pressed the button leaning on something. He also said he called the company to tell them it was a false alarm, but they put him on hold! He said dispatch had come and was ready to haul him to the hospital, but they figured out he was fine.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was. And I don’t think it’s time to take him out of his own home and active lifestyle. Not yet.

What are your thoughts about leaving aging parents in their own homes versus moving them to live closer or with you?

23 thoughts on “A scare during a weekend in paradise

  1. I can understand the care you feel for your dad, and the desire you feel to be there for him.

    My mom also wanted to live independently, and did so well into her nineties.
    She also wore a device on her wrist, like a watch, if she needed to call for help.
    It’s of course our desire to care for our parents, but out of respect for them, we need to allow them to make their own decisions.

    Beautiful and refreshing photos of Lake Tahoe.
    (My brother and I also had several differences of opinion on how best to help our mom, and I also insisted that she wear her safety monitor on her wrist).

    • Thank you for your viewpoint. It sounds like we agree. I think at 90 it would be hard for my dad to develop new friends and a life in an area he doesn’t know. It’s not very driver family here, either. The drivers are nuts! He can access what he needs in his community by golf cart, so he has some independence.We took him on two trips with us and he doesn’t like to travel at all anymore. He’s very comfortable and self sufficient in his own environment.

      • I agree with you. My mom was happiest in her own environment too, and most comfortable.
        What I experienced, though, is something that many of us experience, in that siblings do not always agree on how to care for an aging parent. 🤗

  2. That is a scare indeed. I can’t imagine getting a call like that when away and helpless. Thankfully things turned out okay, and by the way, those are some amazing photos!

  3. My mom lives about 15 mins from our home here in Florida. My sister lives in NC. The fussing over how to manage mom through Covid was…. 🤯ugh. There is nothing more annoying than getting directives from someone who can’t even get down here for a visit. 🤨 My mom turns 90 in July..I’m sure there will be more butting heads down the road…

  4. I have been tossing this over in my mind. I just don’t know. There are going to be posts about my parents, possibly Thursday, and you can see my wheels of my brain in motion….the whole thought if this topic has me all brain addled….

  5. Both of my parents passed away. My father chose to live near us in a community of older folks. We could visit him in 20 minutes and he visited our new home, back then! It was good for him to be nearby. He lived with my brother for a year in Las Vegas, Nevada but he was happier near us. My husband got along very well with him!

    • That’s wonderful your dad was close by. That was our situation before we moved. Now we’re four hours away. He doesn’t want to move at this point.

      • Yes, I understand. My dad had no choice. We gave him the choice and my husband went out of his way to help. If needed, we would have gone to Nevada to pick him up. Unfortunately my brother and father were not getting along. It was wonderful to have him nearby and he made many new friends.

      • That’s about the same age when my dad moved from Seattle to 20 minutes from us in Palm Springs. He’s made friends and built a nice life. At 90, he’s not interested in starting over.

      • Yes, I can understand. It is hard at any age. My dad passed away 2 years after my mom, I believe. They were still in their 70’s. My aunt is living with her daughter now and she is in her 90’s but still holds dearly to her home in another state.

  6. Keep your father in his own environment as long as possible. My father, who suffered from dementia, had 24-hour care in his home and he was so happy. The few times he ended up in the hospital (usually for things like a UTI) and then a nursing facility, we thought we would lose him. As soon as he was released and came home, he blossomed again. I think most of us would agree that living a life of boredom in our old age isn’t what we would choose for ourselves.

  7. Oh my gosh, my heart was in my throat for you! My parents live only 15 minutes from us and are very independent. But I know how I would feel if I got that call.

    Your photos are so beautiful. I’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, but it’s on our bucket list.

    • Thank you! So true. My dad said the other day that he gets so annoyed with the foursome of ,mid-90-year olds on the golf course. They are so slow, he says.

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