Moving an Aging Parent from Long-Distance – Part X


by Joy Loverde

It is heartwarming to see Mom happy and content as she begins the process of furnishing her new apartment. She is equally delighted when all three of her daughters tell her that we have rearranged our schedules to be with her as she shops in Chicago for new furniture.

She tells us she’s on a tight budget and we head to the Value City Furniture store. The online web address is  Keeping Mom in control of all decorating decisions is the only way to accomplish this task and expect that all will go smoothly. This way, Mom will leave Chicago with a happy heart and a beautiful home to look forward to when she and Bill return.

With most of the purchases completed in a matter of a few short hours (Value City had absolutely everything Mom needed to furnish her apartment -- sofa, recliner, TV console, end tables, dining table, and chairs) we go our separate ways, and my sister, Linda takes Mom home to stay overnight.

The next day, Linda and Mom hit the road early to buy the smaller items Mom will need to complete the furnishing of the apartment – lamps, dishes, glassware, wall pictures, bedding, kitchen gadgets and more. They went to Target, Big Lots, and Wal-Mart and bought up a storm. In the afternoon, I called Linda and suggested that since Mom’s shopping was complete, why not drop off Mom and her purchases? This way Mom can stay overnight and spend time in her apartment, putting the items away, and helping her with the transition of living in a much smaller place than she is used to. The more we offer opportunities for our elders to spend time in their new surroundings before the actual move, the better.

The moment Mom arrives, she’s in her new kitchen putting items away right where she wants them. I observe the delight on her face and am touched at how much I love her. It’s a snapshot moment that I will never forget – Mom’s smiles and laughter on this simple, ordinary day. The caregiving process offers numerous split-second memories that live with us forever. We just have to remember to step back and take it all in.

That night I ask Mom to show me her recipe for cooking eggplant Italian style. When Mom is in the kitchen, the entire house fills with aromas that are straight from Tuscany. I often ask my Mom to teach me new things – it’s good for both of us.  After dinner we spend a little more time putting things away in her apartment, and hit the hay early. We’re exhausted.

I’m observing how perfectly everything is falling into place and wondering how long it will be until the first bomb drops. I didn’t have to wait very long. The next day as I am driving Mom back to Linda’s house I get the call from Sharon the realtor. The buyer of Mom and Bill’s house has backed out of the deal, and wants his earnest money back. I say nothing to Mom and am in shock.