By Joy Loverde
If you’ve been tracking my blog series on the topic of moving a reluctant parent (Parts 1-18), you know that the mission is accomplished. My last blog recaps the insanity of dealing with my Aunt and her reluctance to move. Every step of the way was an eldercare crisis in the making.
Here’s where we left off…
My husband and I offered to drive my Aunt to her new location (from Chicago to Detroit to live near her son). From the passenger seat of the car, she appeared calm as she waved goodbye to the house she lived in for over five decades.
It took 5 hours to get to her son’s home and the entire time in the car I was holding my breath. Would my Aunt start crying uncontrollably? Would she lash out at me and my husband? None of that happened. In fact, my Aunt did not say one single word about how she was feeling. I had no idea what the drive would be like and I was relieved that she appeared to be in good spirits. When we arrived, her son and family warmly greeted us as we drove up the driveway to their home.
My husband and I stayed overnight and purposely left early the next morning. We assured my Aunt that we would see her again soon, and off we went knowing I had a lot of work ahead of me to get her house sold for good and her possessions moved.
Upon my return home, I immediately began to tackle an extensive to-do list. I had eight weeks to clear out the house and hand the keys over to the new owners. As I write this, I am understating the stress of it all.
As I began the process of going through the house, I found myself crying a lot as I packed up her belongings. I was also overcome with grief each time a stranger carted away items and furniture that they purchased from my Aunt. Long-time memories of family gatherings at her house overwhelmed me. I “heard” the voices and laughter of family who has since died. I could smell the Italian dinners and turkey cooking in the oven. I grieved every single moment I spent in that house alone, and was glad when my job to pack and remove my Aunt’s belongings was completed.
Fast-forward one year. My Aunt has been living in a senior-housing community doing her best to call it home. She rarely complains (except for the food) and doesn’t say much about her surroundings when we talk over the phone. Her biggest concern is remaining her privacy when it comes to talking with fellow residents. She says, “People are nosy around here.”
About a month ago, my Aunt fell out of bed in the middle of the night. The good news is she called for help and they came to her rescue immediately. She was badly hurt; but is now on the mend. All I can say is thank God she moved when she did. Her falling out of bed is more evidence that she could no longer live alone.
When it comes to this caregiving task – relocating a reluctant parent -- there’s no more to write about. Deed done. From here on out, my job is to stay in touch as much as possible, and visit on a regular basis.
I miss her.