Monday, October 27, 2008

It's time to return home . . . or is it?

The telephone rang yesterday morning, while I was still in bed.

"We think it's time you came back home," I heard my 91-year-old mother say. She and my 96-year-old father live in Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds, a picturesque part of southern England.

She went on to explain that she was thinking only about the future of our 38-year-old daughter, our only child. "When you go, she won't have anybody," my mother explained.

In reply, I pointed out to her that the value of the New Zealand dollar had fallen by about 20 percent, vis-a-vis the United States dollar, in the past few months, and that its fall against the British pound had almost certainly been similar. (I don't track the Kiwi dollar's value in relation to the pound, for the simple reason that I never do business in pounds. But a quick check a few minutes ago revealed that it has, indeed, declined in value this year, and that it today bought only 36p.)

What this means is that, if we:

1. Sold our house in New Zealand on a depressed real estate market,

2. Converted our depreciated New Zealand dollars into pounds,

3. Disposed of all our furniture, etc., which couldn't be economically shipped to England, and

4. Paid for travel to England, and for temporary accommodation at both ends of our journey,

we would be virtually wiped out. In fact, we would arrive in England like refugees. Besides, I left England in February 1960, when I was only 19. The country is hardly "home" to me now, as I approach 70. And I couldn't count on relatives, many of whom I hardly know, to provide any kind of support to our daughter in the distant future.

Why do parents make such unrealistic suggestions?

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