by Joy Loverde
I got the call yesterday. Mom said in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, “We are moving back to Chicago.” Dead silence. I couldn’t respond. Mom, who is 83 years old, and her husband, Bill, who is in his mid 80’s got married over twenty years ago, sold their homes, pack up their belongings, and moved to Port Charlotte, Florida and never looked back. Mom left five children and Bill left two daughters. And just like that two families were split up.
My siblings and I loved the idea that Mom and Bill were on a perpetual honeymoon and living in the land of sunshine and backyard lemon trees. We also thought that visiting them in Florida in the dead of the Chicago winters and doing the backstroke in their heated swimming pool was going to be a perfect vacation destination and yearly pilgrimage.
One year turned into seven years turned into twelve years and so on, and the reality of time and distance set in. Family sojourns to Mom and Bill’s home in Florida were few and far between. What kept me and my siblings from visiting regularly was the reality of juggling life responsibilities. And so, my Mom being the free spirit she is made it a point to return to Chicago twice a year for twenty years. And Bill always chose to stay in Florida.
Since I travel most of the year for business, I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time with Mom and Bill in Florida, helping them with much-needed household chores. In fact, my sister, Carol and I came to their rescue after Hurricane Charlie did a number on their house. Since the phone lines were down (of course they didn’t have a cell phone!!) they had no idea we were coming and were delighted when we landed at their doorsteps.
Over the past five years I began to witness dramatic physical and mental changes in Mom and Bill. And it always broke my heart when they would tell me that so-and-so died or moved away. Today, they are friendless-in-Florida.
Yesterday’s call was a long-distance caregiver’s dream. I have now begun the process of moving them back home. The family has rallied together to help them accomplish this goal. Fact is, thousands of family members are in the same boat as me – helping aging parents relocate. And so I will be documenting this caregiving journey in the hopes that what I write about will be insightful to others.
At this time, I have no idea of how things will go, but I do know this. There will be a time that I will look back at these blogs and smile, knowing Mom and Bill could feel the love of family throughout the entire process.
So... here we go!!!
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