The second set of rejected strips that predicted the Pattersons' present day started off when Elly got a letter from Marian telling her that her grandfather had passed on. The first rough-draft goes as follows:
Panel 1: Elly holds a letter in her hands and says "Oh, dear, John! My grandfather has just passed away! What an awful shock for my mother!"
Panel 2: John 'comforts' Elly by reminding her that the man was ninety-three, that they've been expecting this and that her mother will by okay.
Panel 3: He then says that the man wanted to go before saying that her mother will be relieved now that her life has been made so much easier.
Panel 4: She agrees with this but then says that Marian now feels as if she a fifty-five year old orphan.
While the second goes like this:
Panel 1: Elly tells John that it's easy not to talk about it but wonders what will happen when their parents are elderly and need care.
Panel 2: John mutters something about they owe them so much and need to repay all they were given but can't see living with the parents.
Panel 3: Elly tells him that Jim and Marian will never move in with them but she herself can't bring herself to park them in an old age home.
Panel 4: John ends the discussion by agreeing that it's an awful decision that they don't have to think of yet so should stop talking about it.
The interesting thing about all of this is that John's jerkish remark about how happy Marian will be now that she's no longer looking after a very old man not only demonstrates that he's a heartless dick who can only think of things in terms of what's convenient, it seems to me to foreshadow the way Eva Warzone, the Continental and Luis Refugee deal with April's grief over what happened to Jim. The underlying idea that since Jim and Elly's grandfather were very old, the best thing to do is be grateful that their suffering is at an end so that one can move on to things that actually matter. In John's case, it's not having to worry about the future; in the case of Eva Warzone, it's crushing Becky before she can crush them.
This leads me to another thing wherein making John and Elly's life easier comes into play: his comment about how he and Elly are somehow beholden to their parents for something that they don't actually seem to want to be rewarded for doing. I do not know where these two came up with the idea that parents should somehow or other present their children with an itemized bill for services rendered when they leave home because their folks sure don't believe that they're owed anything more than happy children. What I do know is that for some reason, the two of them think that they have to own horses because of that favor bank system of morality they believe in.
This, I think, is why Jim was very reluctant to move to the Pattermanse. He didn't want to impose because his children had their own lives. He stayed a couple of years so as to make Elly happy and to get his bearings after Marian passed but soon found himself wanting a private life again with Iris. The problem is that by the time that Elly's horrible cooking gave him a minor stroke, their refusal to plan for that sort of thing left them scrambling around like lunatics and treating April like someone who has mittens pinned to her jacket sleeves in July. What it also tells us is that when he actually did pass on, April will have been accused of wanting to make his death about her and her drama by inquiring as to why the assembled hypocritical vermin come to whine about how much they'll miss a man they shunned like a leper because they feared his aphasia was contagious didn't do more for him when he was still alive.