Moving a Reluctant Parent – Part 1

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by Joy Loverde

Many of you know that I recently wrote a 23-part series about moving my Mom and her husband, Bill long distance – from Florida to Chicago. It was quite an ordeal in spite of the fact that they were motivated to move (at least Mom was).

Now I am faced with a move of a different nature – helping my elderly Aunt Bernice move out of the home she has lived in for over 50 decades. The difference between this situation and Mom’s move is the fact that Aunt Bernice does not want to move. She has made it very clear that by doing nothing she is expecting someone else to clean up the financial and emotional messes she leaves behind.

Let the games begin!

My wonderful Aunt Bernice is 79 years old and has experienced her share of personal challenges including the death of a beloved daughter who died unexpectedly from a drug overdose. My cousin, Michelle, left behind a two-year old (her husband would die of an overdose several months later). Little Rachel became the love of Aunt Bernice’s life, and to this day they are inseparable.

The house Aunt Bernice refuses to leave behind holds many memories fond and not-so-fond. Today, I watch as she makes her best attempts to negotiate the rooms where life unfolded. Rooms where she and my uncle raised their family, where they gathered our families together for holiday dinners and festivities, and rooms where we sat with Aunt Bernice and mourned the lives of newly departed loved ones like Michelle and Uncle Frank.

The house is who Aunt Bernice is. Every nook and cranny is her, from the dark wood paneling to the doilies in the hall curio. Fifty years of a life wrapped up in 1400 square feet. And over and over again, Aunt Bernice has proclaimed that she is going nowhere. That’s that.  I don’t have a leg to stand on right now. I completely understand what she is telling me. No means no.  And yet, I know from years of personal caregiving experience that I can (and will) find a way to open up the dialogue with Aunt Bernice to turn this situation around.

So dear reader, I’ll be blogging along the way. I have no idea how this move will turn out – just like I didn’t know what was around every corner with Mom and Bill. I do know one thing for sure; it’s going to be a wild ride. Eldercare and moving a reluctant elderly loved one always is!

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