How Old Is Too Old To Move To Mexico?
By Bob Dietz
My 91-year-old father, Ray, sold his Florida condo and asked to move to the La Floresta Convalescent Home. It is seven blocks from my home in Ajijic. This is the story of that transition.
I flew to Gainesville, Florida to pick up a man who had consolidated all of his worldly possessions into a bank account and one checked bag. That’s a lesson in reverse materialism. Our departure day featured tornado warnings and no plane was allowed to fly. We patiently waited in this snack bar airport for eight hours. My dad and I, and his trusty walker, stuck in airport hell. I’m waiting for complaints. But not one was uttered from his now parched lips. He seems to enjoy this unavoidable delay. After the TSA groping, eight hours of waiting provides a perfect opportunity for a father and son to do a lot of catching up.
Four bags of peanuts, one hamburger and three sodas later, the skies cleared and we apprehensively boarded the aircraft. He’s excited, but looks spent. But wait, is that the voice of an angel I hear? It’s the strawberry blond stewardess asking for volunteers to unbuckle, deplane, and be regally rewarded to help solve what has become an overbooking situation. This is going to be a test for him for sure. Just how much adventurous spirit does he have? Since I had no way to measure that, I simply said paradise looks better in the daylight. It can wait a day.
So we dragged our disappointed bodies back into the airport and stood in line for another hour with two nurses who shared our plight, and waited to be compensated. After spending the entire day in anticipation of his first flight since being in a World War II military plane 72 years ago, our progress is only fifty feet closer to Guadalajara. But still no complaint. Does this man have patient Mexican blood in his veins? He leans over to tell me that the two nurses want us to join them for dinner at the hotel restaurant. O.K. now tell me you’ve been on a double date with your father? How do I explain this to my wife? Yeah honey, I couldn’t help it, my father was just a bad influence. Why do I keep visualizing Rickey Ricardo saying, “Lucy ju got sum splainin to do.”
After a very enjoyable dinner with our escorts and repeated assurances that the $400 each, gorgeous hotel suite and dinner was complimentary, he just floored me. He whispered, “ If the airline offers you this again tomorrow take it.” This isn’t aviation hell, he`s having a great time. What happened to the North American rush, rush, don`t let anything get in my way? Has this gringo achieved a more laid-back Mexican attitude before we’ve even made an approach landing on Mexican soil?
Fifteen minutes after we were airborne, he asked me,” How does the pilot put the brakes on and stop the plane in midair?” What? We are flying at 600 miles per hour. He thought we were sitting still in midair. I guess avionics have greatly improved since World War II.
The retirement home had permitted us to paint and decorate his pool view room prior to his arrival. So he was pleased upon seeing his new digs. The love and care of the management and staff has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. In his first three weeks in Mexico, he reversed most of the ill effects of self-neglect. The cans and microwave diet was replaced with fresh food prepared by a loving cook. His ankle swelling disappeared in one week. Yeah, dad you can stop taking the Prilosec, heartburn medicine you’ve taken for three years too. The expectations of daily showering and clothes changes was instituted by the staff. A wonderful, and caring doctor injected some medicine into his hip joint and he parked the walker and started using just a cane.
Even in Mexico, where ingenuity is highly regarded, his pants with the big yellow paper clip in place of the broken zipper, will not be considered stylish. New pants, a successful trip to the dentist and optician and he has completed a makeover that even Oprah’s producers would envy. How did all this happen so efficiently? Didn’t his age hamper things? No, it was all his attitude. It seems attitude is more important than age. I saw him even reach for the hot sauce yesterday.
Dad, you are one cool gringo and even though I’ve lived here three years, thanks for teaching me to be more Mexican. Did we answer the question of how old is too old to move to Mexico? Maybe not, but we now know the bar has been raised to north of 91 years old.