California Fan writes…
A few years ago, my wife and I decided to make a new start for our 2 kids and moved from California to Arizona. Since then, my mother passed away and my dad moved out of his house, but kept it, and got a smaller place for himself. He really wanted us to move into the old house, which we did. He had given a few of my mom’s things away but the rest is still in the house. We are trying to move in after 2 months but still have not unpacked our belongings. My dad lived in this house for 30 years and out of respect for him, we do not throw or give anything away without asking him first. Some of it is his old stuff that he hasn’t used in 15 years but he won’t throw it away. It gets worse. Like I said, it’s his house and on a daily basis he storms into what is our room now, he goes through things and yells at me or my children because things are not exactly the way he left them. I can’t live like this much longer. I gave up a well paying job with lower living expenses in Arizona and moved back here so my father would not be alone and end up a bitter old man. I’m almost at my wit’s end.
Dear California Fan
First of all, I admire you for respecting your dad, as frustrating and difficult as it must be. I also understand how lost he must be without his partner. Clearly, moving into his old house was not the best idea. It might have worked if you had made a clear agreement to empty the house, change the locks, and live there as a renter would, but he doesn’t seem ready to let things go. You can’t continue to live there under these conditions. The question is, what’s the best way to fix it? It seems to me he might be happier living in his old house with all his memories, so maybe you could suggest that to him. You might even find out he regrets moving out but doesn’t want to ask you to leave. Or maybe he’d be open to putting their old belongings in storage so it will feel more like your place and he won’t be upset with your “invasion.” Arizona is not too far from California so I would also consider moving back. Or if you want to be closer to your dad, move to another place across town. Tell him there are many reasons why it’s not working and offer to help him either sell or rent the old house, or move him back in, whatever he wants. Whatever option you choose, you really have to make a change. Living in this stressful environment is not healthy for your family, or your dad.