When my dad called to tell me he’d fallen off a ladder putting up the outdoor television and had broken his leg and needed surgery, I cried my eyes out. Probably an overly dramatic reaction, but ever since my mom died four years ago, I’ve been holding onto him more tightly. It has been one thing after another, with my dad having bladder cancer, then prostate cancer, my stepmom’s heart surgeries and my stepfather’s liver cancer, not to mention my in-laws’ health scares. It was too much. I knew I needed to be with my dad, and my husband supportively agreed to hold down our fort.

I flew diagonally across the country from my home in Seattle to Osprey Cove, a retirement community in St. Mary’s, Georgia. My dad and stepmom kept me in mind when building their custom one-story home, so it was perfect for my dad, who was now also on wheels. When I arrived, my dad was two weeks post-op and maneuvering his $115/month rental wheelchair pretty well. He had just opened a bottle of pinot noir. I watched him angle and re-angle his wheelchair and then G