Moving a Reluctant Parent – Part 8

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by Joy Loverde

Things are heating up. If you’ve been following Parts 1 through 7 regarding the adventures of my Aunt Bernice and her reluctance to move out of her house, then you know that she would have been far better off had she made the move a year ago when she invited me over to her house to help her “pack a few boxes.”

The continuous spending of money (she doesn’t have)in order to keep up with the interior and exterior house maintenance combined with her serious chronic physical ailments still isn’t enough to make her budge.

Last summer, the family room in her house flooded after a rainstorm. She spent a lot of money fixing the leak and repairing damaged walls, carpeting and furniture. I recall her telling me how much better she felt knowing that her family room would never flood again. Ha! Last week, the same thing happened again. The rains came and flooded everything. And that’s not all.

Several weeks ago, at 2:30 am, she decided to move her bedroom nightstand (a heavy piece of furniture). In the process of dragging the nightstand to the other side of the bed, the top fell off and landed on her foot. She said she “saw stars” it hurt so much. Her walking is now impaired.

Last week, she went to lunch with two close friends who announced that they are selling their house and moving to something more manageable. My Aunt told me that she found their news “shocking.” For years this couple swore up and down that they would never move.

If you have been following this “Moving a Reluctant Parent” blog series, you are beginning to get the picture that the myriad house issues compounded by physical ailments is exactly what will eventually wear down a reluctant-to-move  elderly person.  And in the meantime, even though it may look like I am doing nothing to stop the destruction, just the opposite is true.

Behind the scenes, I have done my homework and readied myself to discuss housing options with her when she declares “enough is enough.” I am also psychologically prepared to physically go to her house if/when she physically hurts herself again (a physical crisis often forces a move). Most importantly, I have kept the lines of communication open with her by NOT talking about moving every time we get together. Had I tried to verbally strong-arm her into moving, she would not be disclosing the bad things that are happening to her now. The trust level between the two of us is sky-high and must remain there.

The other day, I got a greeting card in the mail from Aunt Bernice, and in the card were family photos taken long ago when our families got together at her house and we were surrounded with loved and revered relatives who died long ago. I see this photo-giving gesture as progress toward her move. I imagine at night, she gets out those family albums and has herself a good cry. Oh so slowly she is re-living her memories; then says goodbye to the gifts her home has given her for over 50 years.

This, dear readers, is why I have been 100% respectful of Aunt Bernice’s relocation process. The time will come, one way or another that she will move, and I am prepared for anything, and I mean anything, to happen.

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