Over the past two years (I began this journey the summer of 2012) my Aunt has remained adamant about staying put. And if you have been reading my blog posts along the way (Moving a Reluctant Parents Parts 1-15) then you know there has not been much progress in spite of numerous falls, mishaps, and setbacks. I’ve been patient and yet fully aware that anything could happen at any time.
Last week all hell finally broke loose just as I predicted it would. Here’s what happened.
Every August we celebrate my brother’s birthday by gathering family together at our house. And every year my Aunt joins us for the festivities. She stays overnight in one of the guest bedrooms and we get to enjoy her company for a few days before she heads back to her home to the Chicago suburbs.
As soon as my Aunt arrived at the party, every single member of my family noticed a change in her immediately: She had difficulty staying focused; she repeated questions; she could not find her way to the bedroom on numerous occasions; and more often than not she sat by herself and stared into space.
One morning when we were alone in the bedroom having coffee, I noticed a huge bandage on her leg. She got quite upset when I asked her what had happened. It turns out that she fell on the sidewalk outside her home – and never bothered to go to the doctor. By now her leg was swollen and a bright shade of red. My Aunt also admitted to having difficulty with household tasks such as cooking as well as getting lost driving from time to time.
The trust level between us is extremely high and my Aunt asked me to promise not to say anything about her leg and the rest of her problems to the other family members. I gave her my word. At the same time I had all the evidence I needed to conclude that she is no longer safe living in her home alone. Something had to be done immediately - but what?
I am known as the family photographer. Whenever there is a family gathering everyone counts on me to take photos and share them via email. And that’s exactly what I did to jumpstart the relocation process. I sent the birthday-party photos to everyone including my Aunt’s son who lives in Michigan. Five minutes after the photos arrive in his e-mail box my phone rang.
My cousin said he was shocked at how his Mom looked in the photos I had sent and that he knew something was terribly wrong. He said his game plan is to sell the house immediately and relocate his Mom to Michigan to live near him and his family.
Four days later, he and his brother and the realtor met in my Aunt’s living room. She quietly signed the papers to sell the house and handed over the keys to the car; then she went upstairs to take a nap.