Nomad Life 2017 Update – Death, Dementia, and Getting on with Life

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So far, 2017 has been a challenging year. After spending 5 months in Calgary helping out my dad, I will be heading south for the winter in early September.

My mother died in January, unexpectedly, although not a total surprise. She died peacefully at home in Calgary at the age of 81. My dad found her and he called me to tell me that she was dead. At first, he thought she was asleep in her chair but when she didn’t respond to him he realized she was dead. Dad has Alzheimer’s and he’s 85 years old, he was heartbroken as was the whole family.


Susan Moore with her parents in August 2016

Susan Moore with her parents in August 2016


Since I was in Oxford Mississippi at the time, I called one of my brothers in Calgary to assist dad at the house. The EMS attended and we began navigating the journey of things to do when a loved one dies. And consoling each other over our shared loss.

I flew to Calgary, via Memphis Tennessee, and spent 10 days with my dad in January. Then three of my siblings took care of dad in February and March. They took turns staying with him overnight and assisting him during the day in addition to juggling their regular jobs and home life.

In order to help my dad (and my siblings) I decided to drive to Calgary in early April rather than waiting until June, as previously planned. Originally, I would have made my way to Calgary in increments, staying for a month at each city, moving further north and west towards Calgary. Luckily the winter weather took a pause while I drove for three long days to get to Calgary.

Having moved on to Lexington Kentucky for the month of March, the 2,000 mile trip to Calgary took about 30 hours. Spending over 10 hours behind the wheel for 3 days straight was tiring but easier than I had anticipated. Driving through the Midwest I was grateful for both cruise control and pleasant weather along the way.

To break up my long trip into equal travel days I made stops in Nora Springs Iowa and Kenmare North Dakota. Driving for three days in a row was easier than I thought but felt relieved upon arriving in Calgary on April 2nd.

Working remotely has allowed me to spend the past five months with my dad (as well as last summer with my parents) in Calgary while still earning a living. I am grateful to my bookkeeping clients for embracing my nomadic lifestyle choice and letting me shift from working at their offices to working from anywhere.

Soon I will be leaving Calgary to head south for the winter and to make my annual in-person client visits in Austin TX. While I am happy to get back to nomad life I sometimes feel guilty for leaving my dad. Although we have arranged for caregivers to help my dad it is difficult to leave him. Still I know it is best for me to get back to my life.

While I sometimes feel selfish for leaving my dad I also realize that I need a break from care-giving. I need to have my life back again for a while. The role of caregiver is lonely, heartwarming, sad, challenging, funny, frustrating, humbling, bitter, and sweet all at the same time. Living with my dad for the past five months has been a wonderful gift, for both of us.

I will miss my dad. I wonder if I will see him again. The plan is to drive back to Calgary for spring 2018. Will he even know who I am if I get to see him again? The sun is setting on both his body and his mind. He knows this and we talk about it often.

For a month, Des Moines Iowa will be my home. The drive from Calgary to Des Moines is around 22 hours which is longer than my usual 6 to 8 hours between locations. Actually I am looking forward to the solitude.

Originally I was planning to stay in Minneapolis for September but I didn’t find anything in my price range ($1,500 max per month) in or around Minneapolis. Searching further south I decided on Des Moines Iowa. I found a beautiful house for rent on and it’s well within my budget.

College towns are usually a good choice for my nomad locations. There is always an element of creativity with an arts and entertainment scene, a decent selection of coffee shops and bars, and the vibe suits me.

After Des Moines, I will make my home in Lafayette Louisiana for a month. In December 2016 I stayed in Lafayette and I loved it. Lafayette is Cajun country which means great food and great music and friendly folks. Added bonus is that Lafayette Louisiana has superb high-speed internet.

Getting back on the road again I plan to get into blogging again too. Must catch you up on all my travels and spill some stories. I am planning to start including guest writers on the blog too. Stay tuned for more travel stories and adventures and thanks for reading my blog.

Leaving you with some photos from the garden my mom created here in Calgary. These photos are all from this spring and summer, everything bloomed in abundance this year. It’s wonderful to have a lasting memory of my mom through her beautiful garden…

Moms’s garden 2017




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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

8 Replies

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  1. Carolyn Black says:

    Susan, Carolyn from Tubac is now living in Austin. You may remember me. I am sorry you have had a trying time with mom’s death and dad’s condition. I have moved into a retirement residence. Yippee, I don’t have to cook. My family live nearby. The residence has many near my age (85) and many older. Each has a story and most are here because their family now lives in Austin.
    If you come thru Austin call me. There is a stone house on the grounds that rents for $75 per night. Or I could put you up for a few days. You could do a travel program here.

    • Hi Carolyn, yes I remember you! Thank you for your kind words. That’s wonderful that you moved to Austin and you have family close by. I am really surprised that you are 85 yrs old, never would have guessed. I will be in Austin the last 3 weeks of November so I hope we can get together. I have accommodation booked already but thank you for your kind offer. I would love to talk travel with you and the folks at your retirement residence. I will get in touch with you when I arrive in Austin.

      • Carolyn B. says:

        Hi Susan, Yes, well, the numbers catch up with you. I do not have any “physical conditions” that hold me back and probably look and feel at least 15 years younger than my cohort group. I try to keep their spirits up and can share my travels and ongoing adventures with them. They are dear folks, open, honest and nonjudgmental, which is a surprise, perhaps. I live at the Renaissance in the Arboretum area of Austin off Jollyville Road. We have a nice woods we live in and the food is very good. If you have an hour talk you would like to give, we might be interested in hearing from you and some of your adventures. I would need to get more info on when we would have time on the calendar, but it would be interesting for you and for the folks.

        • Hi Carolyn,
          You are fortunate to be in such great shape at at 85. I would enjoy talking with the folks at your place, and listening to their stories too. I am staying in NW Austin, not too far from Arboretum area, that will be convenient. Let’s talk before I get to Austin, I will email you when I get settled in Des Moines to arrange a time to chat on the phone and discuss further. I am looking forward to it!

  2. Billie says:

    Sorry about your mom. Alzheimers is hard- went through it with my mom and care-giving is challenging. Kudos to you. As long as your dad is getting good care, don’t feel guilty. It’s a waste of energy. Just say your good-byes as if it’s the last and hope it’s not. Safe travels!

  3. Suzanne Fluhr says:

    Parenting our parents is tough. Best wishes to you and your father.

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