Momma Hen

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am so proud of my son I can barely stand not talking about him. He
went from not dating in high school to being engaged to a fabulous
gal. He survived an almost-fatal care accident and got his engineering
degree and now a great job with the state transportation department.
He has almost $50K saved for a down payment on a house. He and his
honey are renting in a town that is a tourist destination, so prices are
high. They have scoped out a house with a fabulous view, adjacent to
a park that is owned by a 92-year- old woman who appears healthy
enough to live independently, garden, and walk her dogs. It is their
dream house and I have encouraged him to talk to her about her long-
term plans. He thinks that is rude and intrusive but we agreed to listen
to what you say. Is it inappropriate for him to introduce himself?

Momma Hen

Dear Momma Hen:

Most seniors have a healthy respect for mortality, which can sometimes lead to
avoiding any discussion of aging, lifestyle changes, living independently, etc. But
at 92 one cannot live in complete denial of the fact that changes are almost
inevitable within the foreseeable few years. As a medical social worker once said
to me: 95% of families make big decisions in times of crisis. Perhaps this wise
and strong older woman is not among them.

I&'d suggest that your son and his fiancée leave her a note on her door saying
they are neighbors who would love to have tea with her, and ask if they may visit
soon; then suggest a date/time (with a phone number for her to call if that’s not
convenient). They should arrive with a plate of cookies and say very simply that
they are in love with her home, and hoping to buy a place like hers within the
next few years. They can ask if she has family who intends to live there after her,
and, if not, if they could explore a way for them to be in first position to buy it after
she decides she can no longer maintain the property. They may get a swift kick
out the door, but if they are lucky, she will appreciate their attempt to
communicate and follow up with at least a tour and at best a plan for the future. If
they get a no, they can start to look around, and in the meantime keep saving.