I can definitely relate to Dan Padgett’s frustrating dilemma. Not surprising, since he and I share so much in common. During the last years of his long career in municipal government he nursed his dreams of a mobile retirement---one that would include a well-equipped motor home as the primary residence for him and Nell.
It’s the wanderlust in him that has complicated things, he knows that. Just months before, as his retirement drew closer, the lure of “places-to-be-seen” and “people-to-be-met," especially in the remote, far corners of the country and continent, was growing harder than ever to resist.
In Family Matters, Dan has concluded that his dream is how retirement was meant to be. Predictably perhaps, Nell Padgett is looking forward to their Golden Years through very different eyes. For decades she has followed her husband from job to job all over the state. Every few years she had found herself making a new home in a new town. After half a dozen such moves they have finally returned to Tanner, where their odyssey had begun all those years before. She was finally home, and determined never to move again.
While Nell is looking forward to the permanency of their Tanner home, with no intention of ever living anywhere else, Dan continues to dream his “on-the-road” dreams---of cutting all ties with a home base. That’s what he wants. But why would he turn away from the future Nell dreams of having? What is he thinking? I think I’ll ask him.
GS “Tell me Dan, why does it seem like you’re stepping all over your wife’s dream? I learned a long time ago that’s not a good idea.”
DP Believe me, I know better than that. I don’t mean to be putting her down. I’m just hoping she’ll finally realize how great it would be to see all the places we’ve always dreamed of seeing.”
GS “Are you sure that both of you have dreamed about seeing those places? Could it be you’re trying to turn your dream into hers too? If so, what if she doesn’t claim it?”
DP “I guess you could say that’s what has happened---at least so far. She’s just so darn stubborn. I’m talking about a way for us to get out from under all the housekeeping, and the yard and garden stuff. To be free, going wherever we decide to go, for as long as we want. Can’t you see how great that would be?”
GS “It doesn’t matter what I think. This is about Nell. And I’m guessing that doesn’t appeal to her?”
DP “You can say that again. She says what she’s looking forward to is the garden, and her clubs. Stuff like that. That’s what she wants to have. Can you believe that? The very stuff I want to get away from, all the day-to-day chores, is exactly what she wants more of.”
GS “Why do you suppose that is?”
DP “I don’t have a clue. I keep asking her to explain, but she can’t---at least not in a way that makes sense to me.”
GS “Would you mind if I took a guess---about what you might be dealing with?”
DP “Go ahead. God knows I’d like someone to sort it out for me.”
GS “Well, how about this? What if the two of you are bumping heads about what each of you means when you talk about ‘home’? Could that be the problem? (As you might guess, I’m prone to playing the pseudo-wise guru.)
DP “What does that mean?”
GS “You tell me. How would you define ‘home’? What does the word mean to you.”
DP (I won’t include all of Dan' false starts---the hemming and hawing that proceeded his reply.) “Seems to me that when you get right down to it, home can be anyplace we decide to be---anyplace where Nell and I are together. For me it’s not about a certain place or a special building.”
GS “How about Nell? How would she describe ‘home’? Would it be the same as you?”
DP “Not a chance. Her idea of home is the house we live in. It’s all about her friends, and gardens, and clubs, and church. For her it’s very much about this particular place and everything that does with it. Every time I try to explain that it doesn’t have to be that way, she keeps throwing all her Tanner stuff back in my face.”
GS “So the real hang up, what has you two at each other’s throats, is about ‘home,’ and what it means to each of you. Right?
DP “I suppose so.” (He pauses a moment, before asking his question.) “If that’s the case, how do we get past that?”
GS “Oh man, that’s not an easy thing. I’ll bet I could write a whole book about that. In fact, I have.”