My mom was talking to my dad’s sister recently, who is still spry at 90 and still living in Belfast. She mentioned that she was going to visit their grandmother’s farm, where she said Dad spent a lot of time as a child. It made me think about the drastic changes in geography in Dad’s life.
He started out in lush, green Northern Ireland, though perhaps the scenery was a bit grittier due to growing up in Belfast, which was rocked hard by the Nazis in WWII. Then he moved to England when he was just 17, where he lived the city life as a young working man.
Then came the big change. He immigrated to the U.S. by hopping on a freighter for a two-week journey by water to New York City. The sights and sounds of the urban jungle must have been overwhelming. Then he spent some time in storied New Orleans before settling down in Los Angeles. Hollywood no doubt allured my Dad out West. The suburb he ended up raising his family in, Downey, was nice enough but not particularly special.
My parents retired in Ruidoso, NM about a decade ago. Some family members at first thought that my parents had moved to Mexico. Most people probably envision a desert-like environment when they think of New Mexico. A good deal of the state is arid, but Ruidoso is actually a mountain town, and known for its snow skiing. Dad mainly liked the climate there, though it got a bit too cold for him in the winter and he didn’t like the blustery winds the area is known for.
Dad spent the last two months of his life in Albuquerque. The city possesses an arid beauty, but we could also see the majestic Sandia mountains from my dad’s hospital window. So Dad was able to experience many different climates and ways of living over his lifetime. I’m guessing if he had to choose, he would return to the pastoral serenity of his grandmother’s farm.