On moving close to the grandkids (or not):
I moved from the East to West Coast to be with my son and his family. I rented an apartment for two years and rented out my East Coast house for that time to give me a sense of whether it would work.
I knew within six months that this was to be permanent, but it was a process, not an event.
I am an integral part of my grandchildren's lives, and close to my son and daughter-in-law in new ways. It was very hard to rebuild a life, and even harder to let go of my old life and friends. But relationships with young children are based on presence and trust, and the window for building those are shorter than you can you imagine.
Twenty years ago I called my mother, who was living 400 miles away, still working at her career, and fully engaged in her community, church, home. Told her the grandchild was coming. She found a new job, gave up her house and moved before the baby came.
She lived in a small apartment in our town for the entire time her two grandchildren were growing up. She had overnights, babysat, provided rides, went to events (either with us or instead of us); she was there for birthday parties, Christmas morning and everything in between.
She is now 80 and needs some help — driving, going shopping, to appointments, etc. I'm here and HAPPY to help her — as are all the other friends she made in the last 20 years.
My in-laws lived 600 miles away and refused to move. We asked, begged and cajoled for nearly 15 years. They were already retired, and most of their church and community friends were leaving for warmer climates (like ours).
They instead chose to complain about our twice-yearly visits not being enough — so we packed two kids into a van and drove 600 miles only to listen to them complain about how infrequently we visited. They came twice a year and cried when leaving.
Now they are quite elderly and we just moved them to a "home" near us, but they missed watching their now-grown grandchildren grow up.