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HARRIET BERKAL: A CHANGE OF SCENERY

by Harriet Berkal May 15, 2023

A CHANGE OF SCENERY 
 
 
In 1927, my beloved father Louis Berkal, left his grandparents behind, as they were too old to travel, and embarked on a journey which would change his life forever.
 
And what a voyage it was. Can you imagine leaving a very small town in Lithuania, to come to Canada? You don’t even speak English. It must have been beyond frightening. His older brother and sister had arrived earlier, to make money and send for the family. Thank god for them.
 
Families stayed together for the most part back then.
 
Today, it is different. Our kids are leaving Winnipeg, to set down roots in other places, where the opportunities may be better. They are largely, unlikely to return here. Yes they miss their parents and family but they had outgrown Winnipeg.
 
So, as aging and mostly retired parents, do we notice a trend of older, Winnipeggers following their children to other provinces, to be close to them, plus their grandchildren?
 
I think it’s fair to state that we all loathe these cold winters we endure. The glory of the summer days is often interrupted by swarms of mosquitos. But the housing has been relatively reasonable to raise one’s family.
 
Who will care for us in our golden years if our kids aren’t living here? If you have one staying put, then that might be enough to reassure you.
 
I know I stayed here for both my parents. We had opportunities in both Toronto plus Vancouver.
 
I was a late baby ( my mom was 42 when she had me ) and so I never met any of my grandparents. That left a huge void for me.
 
So instead of being house poor, we stayed here and lived extremely comfortably and our kids really got to know their respective babas and Zaidas. I have zero regret about that decision.
 
But now our only grandchild thus far, lives in Vancouver. Yes we make great efforts to come back and forth to visit one another but it’s a far cry from watching a grand child grow up before your eyes.
 
That begs the question, does one move west to be closer to family ?
 
Will it be a quality of life sacrifice? Surely the price we glean from our home here won’t square with what one gets in BC.
 
Then there are the healthcare considerations. In our 60’s and 70’s most of us have our GP’s and specialists we rely on. That network must be reestablished elsewhere.
 
Plus how tricky is it to make new friends in another city ?
 
Keep your eye on the face of that grandchild you need to watch grow.
 
They deserve to know their Baba and Zaida well.
 
It’s a move worth contemplating but know what you are getting into with eyes wide open. Do your research and be prepared for the many challenges of moving at an older age.
 
The demographics and dynamics have altered.
 
Instead of our children staying behind and caring for us, many of us are looking to go where they are to reap the benefits of restoring a unified family living in the same city.
 
“Home is where the heart is “ they say.
 
Family bring nachas and life is short. So if you are thinking of moving, my suggestion is to do it sooner than later. Harder to relocate with age.
 
But if you do move, don’t miss one birthday, one recital, any sport practises, embrace all the achievements your grandchild has to show you in person.
 
Moving to a new city is up there as one of life’s biggest decisions. Mill it over carefully.

 

 

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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