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Family Living Abroad

(29 Posts)
Rad14 Mon 21-Jul-14 11:55:47

Hello all! New here and I hope I'm in the right place!
I know this topic has been discussed before, but as we are all different,
I need to tell our story.

My wife and I have been married for 35 years in September. We have 2 sons.

My wife has suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the last 23 years. I am her carer, so do not work outside the home. Our youngest son,26, has Autism and lives at home with us. He has been described by Psychologists as "One of the most serious and difficult cases they have ever come across!"

Our oldest son, 31, met a girl on The Internet 8 years ago, went out to meet her in Australia (we live in Northern Ireland), fell in love and married 7 years ago. They now have a beautiful little daughter, 10 weeks old, and we are going to Oz for a visit in September.

Like I'm sure others here, we are heartbroken, at not only losing our son forever to Australia, but now any chance of a relationship with our Grand daughter. Also, we have the added worry of our youngest son and what will happen to him after our deaths. Our oldest son will never return to live here as his wife is very Australian and a homebird, so what becomes of him? Yes, we have Skype, and yes it is great and certainly better than previous generations ever had, but as we all know, it's not like touching, hugging, etc and I suppose we'll remain, the funny TV people with the strange accents, as we miss all the little milestones etc.

Unlike it seems many here, we won't be able to afford to travel to Australia
every year for visits, and in fact, after a few years we probably won't be going at all anymore. And I'm also sorry to report, that it "doesn't get better" as time goes by. We are at a loss as how to feel about all this and part of me even "dreads" going out to visit, knowing that we have to leave in 4 weeks and go home, to what?

The whole thing has really come between us and our son. Of course we want him to be happy, and he has done very well job wise in Australia, but we have never spent long enough with our DIL to get to know her, and probably never will -so there is another loss! And all people can say is "Oh, Skype is brilliant isn't it?" as if that's the answer to this appalling situation.

Sorry for the rant, just every now and then I need to get it off my chest, when I'm not drowning my sorrows in drink that is.

ninathenana Mon 21-Jul-14 12:32:25

Nothing I can say will make you feel better, I sincerely wish it would ((hug))
So I will just welcome you to GN and say feel free to let off steam whenever you need and join in other posts too smile

J52 Mon 21-Jul-14 12:36:31

What a difficult and dreadful situation you find yourself in. I have no answers, other than to offer my sympathy and do come onto Gransnet when you need to let your emotions out! Some wise GNs will be in the same boat and have some good advice. flowers

sunseeker Mon 21-Jul-14 12:48:27

I know how difficult it is when your family is living so far away. I am a widow with no children of my own and all my immediate family, my mother, my brother, his children and grandchildren all live in Australia. I am fortunate enough to visit them every 5 years or so (I am going next year for my mothers 90th!), we keep in touch through emails and phone calls but as you say its not the same as a hug.

You have the additional worry of your wife's health and your son's problems and whilst I can understand your concern for him after you are gone, would you have wanted your other son to take on that responsibility?

I don't have any knowledge of the welfare system, but perhaps some GNetter will be able to advise you about what help there may be available for you.

As has been said, do come onto GN whenever you want to let of steam, seek advice or just want to chat flowers

janeainsworth Mon 21-Jul-14 12:54:32

Rad14 Welcome from me too.
I am in a similar situation, except that my son is in America, which is easier to travel to and from than Australia. We have two grandchildren and we have had to accept that we will see them infrequently. We had only met our DiL twice before the wedding.
I agree that Skype is not the answer, but it's better than nothing, even when one of the grandchildren is having a hissy fit and won't come to the phone!

But you must not let it 'come between' you and your son. Do you really want to make him to feel guilty, when all he has done is marry the girl he loves and followed his dream?

I have had to learn to be grateful for my blessings, and not dwell on what might have been.

gillybob Mon 21-Jul-14 13:20:48

Hello Rad14 and welcome to Gransnet. My children and grandchildren all live with half an hour of me so I cannot begin to imagine how you feel but I will say this;

I would hate my children or grandchildren to be lumbered with the responsibility of either my care or my entertainment as I get older. I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy their life doing what they want when they want to as much as possible. I don't want them to feel they have to look after me. There can sometimes be a fine line between having your children close by and keeping them close by.

I agree with janeainsworth when she says
.............."But you must not let it 'come between' you and your son. Do you really want to make him to feel guilty, when all he has done is marry the girl he loves and followed his dream?"

Gagagran Mon 21-Jul-14 13:31:10

Rad14 your disappointment and sadness at the huge distance you are away from your DS, DinL and DGD comes through loud and clear and I truly hope that the thought of only four weeks with them doesn't spoil your forthcoming visit to Oz. Just try and enjoy every moment and store up happy memories to sustain you when you get back home.

I do understand your feeling of loss, having had my DS and his wife and our beloved DGDs go to live abroad when DGD no 2 was only 3 months old. We were lucky in that they came back after 2.5 years and we did visit several times in the time they were away. SKYPE is better than nothing as janeainsworth says and you can get to see them, which is better than a letter or a telephone call. Thanks goodness for the internet!

As regards your younger son, perhaps the time has come to think about long term planning for his future so that if the worst comes to the worst then he can be cared for according to his needs. There may be advice available from the National Autistic Society - but I expect you already know that!

I hope you find GN a stress relief valve. With everything you have to deal with you certainly sound as if you need one.! sunshinesmile

janerowena Mon 21-Jul-14 16:10:53

I used to use an exercise machine every day at around the time that a programme about families moving down under came on the tv, and it was heartbreaking to see the parents/grandparents trying to be brave - or not trying. Someone on here said, you are the bow and your children are the arrow, and it is true. Some land further away than others.

However, I have an Australian friend who lives in Holland with a dutch husband, and she has your situation in reverse, a disabled father, a mother who has started to show signs of dementia, a brother who has a drinking and mental problems living with them and not helping them at all. She is bankrupting and exhausting herself flying back and forth trying to help and her marriage and job are suffering hugely as a result. She feels guilt and misery whatever she does. She's out there at the moment decorating their house and getting it a bit more disability-friendly and trying to organise a nurse for her father as her mother can no longer be trusted.

I have seen many friends lose their chances to make their dreams come true because of the illness of their parents. I really don't know what the answer is - but I am seriously hoping that euthanasia becomes legal before I end up causing my children as much misery as I have seen amongst quite a few of my friends. One of my friends has spent the last year living apart from her partner, caring for her mother. Because of his work and the distance, she has only seen him once a month, if that.

You sound as if you feel trapped, and I don't blame you, but your son isn't the answer. He is still relatively young and enjoying what is probably a wonderful life. Just support him and hope he becomes a millionaire and can afford to ship you all out there!

Tegan Mon 21-Jul-14 16:35:14

Please don't dread the visit; you sound as though you very much need the break and it will be a great adventure. It will be good that you won't have to 'imagine' where your son is when you speak to him using Skype but can tap into the place somehow and feel that you're 'there' [I hope that makes sense]. It's very good to come on here and pour things out; we all do it and it really does help. Best wishes to you.

henetha Mon 21-Jul-14 16:40:19

I feel so sorry for your situation, Rad14. I wish I could come up with some magic formula which would help.
Make the most of your trip to Australia in September, and hopefully more in the future. It is a chance to get to know your d.i.l. better and I hope she will be kind and understanding towards you.
All I can say is, don't let go. Hang on tighly to the contact you do have with your son. Anything is better than no contact at all and I feel it is important to stay on good terms. We never know what the future has in store. I do hope with all my heart that you will gradually feel easier with the situation. I know it must be hard though.
I do send my very best wishes to you and your family.

Coolgran65 Tue 22-Jul-14 04:06:02

Our Ds and dil and dgs who is a baby are 7000 miles away. We visited for 2weeks last May. We took each day as it came and had a wonderful time. The night before we left was heartbreaker. Many tears when baby went to bed.
But now I know their neighbours. The streets around their home. I know their home and where the coffee stays, where the spoons are kept. I've smelled the roses in their garden.

We may never visit again, I hope we do.
In the meantime if I phone and ds has baby out for a walk...he tells me where he is, and I know exactly in my mind where he is at. I can picture it in my mind.I know the favourite stores, and where he works. I have seen ds look after and care for dgs.
Those memories will never leave me.
Go visit. The long journeys are worth it. See that he is happy and well.
Before you go, look up Google maps, see what his street is like,get familiar beforehand.
Make your trip fun for them as well. Before you leave them take all the big bearhugs and remember them for good memories at go on. Reassuring your da that you can handle it will give ds the strength to cope.

It's not easy, never a day passes that I don't think of them many many times.
Good wishes, go and have time with doc. Get pics for home.

Rad14 Tue 22-Jul-14 19:19:03

Thank you one and all for the warm welcomes and all your kind replies, I really appreciate the interest shown here.

However, there are some who seem to have the wrong end of the stick!

I and my wife have never wanted or expected either of our sons to "be lumbered with our care or entertainment" when we are older, I think if you re read my op you will find I never suggested any such thing. We just simply thought that he would be in at least the same hemisphere!!

Also, I don't know where most of the members here come from, but I suspect America may come into it. We live in Northern Ireland. There aren't any facilities in the entire country for "long term care", they don't exist and those that do, have waiting lists miles long! My wife and I can barely even discuss the subject anyway as due to her condition, she finds the whole subject very stressful and we have to stop.

I don't know if many here understand Autism, but it is a very wide spectrum. There are those who would be classified very severe, those who would be mild, etc, but like so many of them, they have peaks and troughs as far as ability is concerned. Our son would be considered too advanced to be in many of the places we have seen, and yet he would also be considered to be too vulnerable to live on his own. We even tried to have an IQ test done for him, but there were so many difficulties with this that it was impossible to even give him that.

I agree, Skype is better than nothing and thank goodness we all have it, but it's no substitute for the touch, the hug, the time sharing etc that I'm sure most of us really want.

Thanks anyway for all your comments, I read them very carefully and took my time in replying. smile

rosesarered Tue 22-Jul-14 19:36:28

welcome to the forum Rad.It's a hard situation for you.My grandson has autism, and when we are gone, and also my DD and her husband, then he will have to look after himself [if he can.]Hopefully, he will be a grown man by then, but will have no friends, wife, children to be with him, it's heartbreaking.All we can do as he grows [as I'm sure you do] is to help him learn things and how to cope.We can't provide people to be with him and prevent him being lonely.However, other families have children with depression, or are drug users etc. and they can't be with them until they grow old either.We all just do what we can. Have you talked to Social Services about your son and his future?I do understand your feelings about your other son though, going so very far away.If you can afford to go there on holiday, then do it anyway even if it's the only time that you all go there.

Tegan Tue 22-Jul-14 19:36:34

Please let us know how your trip goes Rad. I still think that, having been there, you will find it easier to imagine yourself with him and his family when you speak. Most people on here are from Britain and a lot of members have knowledge of Autism both from a personal and professional point of view; I'm sure if you keep chatting on here you'll get a lot of support in different ways. A lot of members are cut off from their families for various reasons as well. Keep talking and good luck.

rosequartz Tue 22-Jul-14 20:02:26

I do hope you enjoy your visit to Australia, Rad. Although you will miss them terribly, as Coolgran said, one thing your visit will do is enable you to visualise where they live and what their lives are like when you come home again, so when you do Skype you can imagine them there. Please get to know your DIL, if she is the girl your son has chosen then don't be resentful of her and let her think she has 'taken him away'.

We bring up our children and love them but then have to let them go to lead their own lives wherever that may be. I have two DGC in Australia and miss them all the time. We are lucky to be able to go (not every year), and one of them is able to afford to come back to visit sometimes as well. I must say my Australian DGS, age 6, walked into my house as if he had been there only the week before, when it had been two years since he had been! I always think he won't remember us, but of course he does and chats away as if we were chatting only yesterday (although he hates speaking on the phone or skype!).
We do watch all the programmes on Australia and try to get to know the country through our tv as well (sad? but true). We feel part of it although we are not, because part of us (our DDs) is over there.

I hope you can find some more help for your other son. I don't know if you think he could ever live independently with support, but a member of our family who is quite disabled has been able to do so with help.

rockgran Tue 22-Jul-14 20:46:51

I feel your pain, Rad14, my only son and family are in the Falklands for the foreseeable future and probably won't return to this area if indeed they decide to return to the UK at all. We just hope they settle somewhere that is easier to visit. We babysat for both grandsons regularly and of course that suddenly stopped when they went - very difficult to adjust. We will visit next autumn and it will be a year since we saw them. It is not a visit we could afford many times as it is very expensive to get there. Sometimes it feels like a physical pain because I miss them so much. I long for a cuddle.
However - it is their life and they are grabbing it with both hands. I love that they are having an adventure and are brave enough to do something unusual. I would rather they were 8000 miles away and happy than local and miserable. I worry that my grandsons will forget us but I'm glad for the few early years we had with them and hope it leaves a good impression on their memories. Meanwhile we keep in touch via email, facebook and the occasional skype but their internet is very expensive so it is limited. If they come back to live here eventually (years away in any case) I will consider it a bonus. I'm bracing myself in case they decide to move on - there is a whole world out there!
I'm so sorry you have additional worries with your wife and other son - all I can offer is my best wishes to you.

Rad14 Wed 23-Jul-14 21:35:52

Thanks again to everyone who replied.

There are many kind people here.

It was good to read all your comments, and I suppose in the final analysis, the only thing really we can do is "Learn to live with it!"

But it's hard......

Yogagirl Mon 28-Jul-14 16:59:49

Rad flowers for you, I know what it's like to miss & long for your D/S GC.
Good advise from Coolgran & Rose & some of the other ladies.
Have a lovely visit with your S & GC & treasure every minute!

Coolgran65 Mon 28-Jul-14 22:41:33

Rad - I'm sorry things are so difficult, it can't be easy.
It would be wonderful to have good memories of Australia.
I do understand about your wife's chronic fatigue condition, I have fibromyalgia.
We also could not afford to cross the world to visit every year, but will do our best to do what we can.
Also they cannot affort to come back always. It is 3 years since they've been here.
We all do what we can and hope for the best.
Good wishes to you.

Rad14 Fri 01-Aug-14 15:41:25

Thanks Yogagirl and Coolgran65 for your kind wishes.

It's nice to be able to talk to others who understand. We will do our best with Australia, but we can't even go there about ... coming home... sad

Rad14 Mon 08-Dec-14 19:32:26

Well, we went to Australia and saw our granddaughter, who of course is beautiful! The problem is that we both agree that it actually made the whole thing worse in many ways, as now we've seen her and spent time with her, we miss her even more!

As the dreaded Christmas approaches, my wife and I feel like we just want to close the door and hope it's over as soon as possible! We have been very depressed ever since we came back in October, and the usual Christmas cheer with ads showing all these happy families together, (plus of course the grandparents) are doing our heads in.

Yes, we had a great time in Australia, but our son and DIL are very uptight about their daughter and have very much their own ideas about how to bring her up! It didn't help that our DIL was also hormonal when we were there, and it was all we could do to hold our tongues at times! There was an atmosphere the whole time we were there, and one night my wife was even in tears over it.

rosequartz Mon 08-Dec-14 19:45:13

It is very, very hard. I get quite tearful just reading the threads and thinking about my DD in Australia so I know just how you feel.

All I can say is that you are not on your own, there are lots of us. Start saving for the next visit whenever that may be and enjoy going out there as long as you can.

It does help knowing that they are doing what they want to do, following their dreams and enjoying their lives.

rosequartz Mon 08-Dec-14 19:46:41

ps they are bound to be 'uptight' with a first baby and their ideas are probably not the same as yours, particularly with a DIL who may have been brought up quite differently from the way you brought up your children.

Coolgran65 Mon 08-Dec-14 19:51:39

Rad14, I am also in NI. I feel for you and missing your dgd.
I think most of us will agree that when it comes to dil and sil and how they bring up their children, we find we often have to smile and say nothing.
In an hour I will be on Skype with my son and dgs. Can't wait. But it's only a substitute. I am fortunate to have two step gc nearby but the joy I have for them intensifies the absence of my dgs who is so far away.
I have found that accepting what I can't change helps, but still not easy.
I tell them I miss them but they never hear that it is a heartache.

I wish you and your family well.

soontobe Mon 08-Dec-14 19:57:03

If I were you, I would more or less switch the TV off, if that helps.