My mother is 85, and despite medical complications that might sideline a less feisty sort, can still serve up a dollop of guilt with a side of self-pity. But mostly she says she understands. Is she saying that in the way mothers have of releasing their children from obligation so those grown children can care for their own families? Maybe. And if she is, then perhaps she really does understand.
I can't say I am completely at peace with my decision either. I worry my sons will think it's okay not to show up for a family member in need. Yet I have shown up enough. But what is enough? Perhaps it's more important they see these decisions are not easy to make. Someday, they may have to make similar ones.
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In the end, I have to remind myself that it was my parents' decision to build their dream home and leave New Jersey for Las Vegas 30 years ago. It was my decision to settle back in my hometown with my high school crush, knowing a day would come when flying back and forth might not be possible.
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I keep going back in my mind to a stone garden marker, long-ago broken under a heavy snow, which my mother gave us the week Frank and I moved into our house. It said, "Bloom where you are planted."