senior couple driving away in convertible in scottsdale arizona

OK, so I was 32. But I was the one with the grandchildren. One of my brothers was already living in California. My 18-year-old brother was now left with a decision of moving with my parents (unless they chose a retirement area for 55 and older), staying in IL (I don’t think he had a decent job at the time), or moving in with my brother in California. He chose the latter. In fact, he’s been there ever since and is married to a California girl and they have 2 children and live in the garlic capital of the world, Gilroy.

My other younger brother, who had lived in CA for some time, moved back to IL for 3 years to work for Motorola. After that stint, he went back to CA and has lived in San Jose with his wife and kids ever since. They also have a second home in Scottsdale.

My Parents Did Their Homework

My Dad was like me. He loved summer. He’d be out working on the house and lawn in his speedo in Oak Lawn, IL. He always got a verymy dad and his dog muffin in arizona deep, dark tan. The neighbor lady across the street would be out taking care of her lawn and flowers in her bikini. I’m surprised they didn’t cause car accidents.

My folks had visited my brother in California and that was one of their choices. They loved Florida, which is where we had vacations every year when I was younger and went looking there. This is where I expected them to end up and I was excited about it. And for some reason, they checked out Arizona. I had never really heard them discussing Arizona.

And that’s where they ended up, in Mesa, Arizona - much to my chagrin. They purchased a brand new 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house with a pool. My daughter brought pictures home from her trip when she was 10. Her friend said, “Ooooh, who’s the guy in the speedo?” My daughter disgustedly replied, “That’s my Grandpa!”

He doesn't have his speedos on in this photo (thank goodness). This is Dad and his beloved Muffin.

My Kids Never Really Got to Know Their Grandparents

They left around 1984. My daughter was about 9 when my parents moved. My sons were around 7 and 18 months. Neither of the boys really got to know my parents, although my daughter visited them a couple times (her first flight was at 10, mine was much later - at 45).

My parents would come out and visit us and their friends and family about once a year. That’s the only time my kids got to see them. I never had enough room for them to stay with us so they always stayed with other friends and family and we’d get together when we could.

I Wouldn’t Visit Them

I didn’t fly. I was scared to death of flying. It was too far to drive with 3 kids. I ended up getting divorced and was a single mother for a long time so visiting Arizona was not on the list.

In fact, when I got divorced my Mom told me to come out to AZ and live with them until I got myself established. I had no interest in living there. I told her I don’t want to live in a desert with a bunch of old people. She said, “Judy, there are young people in Arizona.”

All I could imagine was tumbleweed, desert sand, rattlesnakes, and scorpions. Not to mention temps above 100 - it’s hard to handle 90 degrees here in Chicago (I didn’t know about “dry heat” at the time). I had no interest in moving there. Arizona was not calling my name.

I Could Never Leave My Family Behind

One of my 3 grandchildren now lives with us, along with my daughter. My coddled 24-year-old son (going on 12) also lives at home. He’s my unlicensed assistant and is a roadie for my husband’s band. So as much as I’d love to live in AZ full-time, I just couldn’t do it. At least not now.

I’ve known some of my large group of friends since 6th grade. My husband also has a large group of friends here. Not to mention our established business selling real estate.

So as much as I’d love to live in Scottsdale, AZ full-time, we’ll have to be what my Mom always called “those damn snowbirds.” But because we work, we won't be staying for months at a time over the winter. We'll just visit when we can. But we are definitely thinking about moving to Scottsdale when my granddaughter graduates from high school.

UPDATE: Not only did we end up purchasing a townhouse in Scottsdale and visiting it whenever we could (we were never snowbirds - we'd just come when we wanted to), but then we moved here full-time. We sold our Scottsdale townhouse to get a single-family home in Cave Creek.

Posted by Judy Orr on
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