On Friday, February 18, 2005 I got a frantic phone call from my mother in St. Charles, MO. They had ten days to vacate their apartment. Actually, they had been given 30 days notice but she “hadn’t wanted to bother me.”
My parents had sold their home in Ohio in 2000 and bought a house together with my sister and her family. They had spent a lot of money fixing up the apartment in the walk-out basement. After my father finally stopped “contributing” to the extraordinarily high mortgage payments, the bank foreclosed and sister was too busy dealing with her own family’s needs to do anything about our parents.
I dropped everything, hustled the dogs in the car, and got out there by Monday afternoon to see what I could do. I had to be back in Athens the following Sunday night.
I learned my father had not invested their limited resources wisely and their available cash was not enough to afford a two bedroom (Mother’s insistence) place in any assisted living facility in the area. There was the possibility, according to my financial advisor, of just barely making it if my father would agree to following some very specific investment instructions.
He acquiesced at first, but as was his wont, reneged and threw several days hard work out the window. Then he had a stroke and was hospitalized Thursday night of that week.
With nothing decided and my time up, the temporary solution was going to be having Mother move into a tiny room in the house my sister was going to rent and my father moving into a spare bedroom in my brother’s little house. Members of St. Charles Christian Church were going to pack up their things for them to be stored in my brother’s attic.
As I was in the car Saturday morning ready to pull out of the driveway, Mother leaned on the window and sobbed. She did not want to live with Father any more.
Hallelujah! They had been married nearly 60 years. From the time I was about ten, I knew she was miserable, and it probably went back further than that.
I had made plans with my folks to meet them at JFK in March so we could attend the baptism of my first grandchild in CT. Father was still in rehab, but Mother made the trip. During those few days, I invited her to come live with me.
It took her nearly two months to make up her mind. Remember, she was 89. Only five years earlier, she had left the home and area she had known all her life to move to MO. Now she would be leaving three of her four family members, her new doctors, and her new church family, again to move half way across the country and start over.
I will always be in awe of the magnitude of that decision.
I flew to St. Louis on Wednesday, June 8, rented a car and hotel room. Thursday I took Mother over to my brother’s where we spent the day going through boxes from their apartment that were stored in his attic. We packed up what she wanted to keep, mostly kitchen items, keepsakes and mementos, and a lot of her craft items. Friday I did the same in her tiny room at my sister’s.
I picked up a Penske truck Friday afternoon, spent Saturday loading it at both siblings’ homes and she spent the night with me at the hotel. Sunday we started our drive to GA, stopping for the night with Cary and Noel in Clarksville, TN.
Lou and Ken, whose lovely daughter is married to my son, were in Athens for a wedding and were a tremendous help unloading and moving things around Tuesday and Wednesday. With a couple men hired from an agency, we got Mother moved upstairs into what had been my library/TV room/guest room.
I am writing this “first” entry on August 9, 2011. Yes, I have left out a lot of detail, but I’m sure by reading between the lines you can discern it was not a pleasant time. I will continue to update this blog in real time. All the entries from July 2005 through May 2011 are gleaned from updates and photos I have sent out to friends and family over the last six years.
My mother is a remarkable woman and deserves all the care, contentment, and happiness she can garner. I thought you would like to know.