Archive | August 2013

Adventures in Moving

I had intended to chronicle each leg of the journey from getting Mom packed up in Prescott to settling in at her new place in L.A. But each of the last six days I’ve hit the ground running and not stopped until I fell exhausted into bed around midnight. I haven’t had the time or energy for reflection. I’m taking a little time today because this transition is important and I don’t want to lose the memories.

Last Monday we had a farewell party for her in Prescott, which was attended by almost 60 friends from church, Bible study, the weekly Scrabble gang and some folks from the assisted living. Mom was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and good wishes, and it was a wonderful success.

This is my favorite picture from the party, Mom with her pastor:
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… and here she is surrounded by her Saturday Scrabble group.
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We had a bit of an adventure on our drive to California. We started out with my mom riding shotgun in my brother’s van, which was loaded down with all her worldly possessions. It’s an old cargo van and for the last couple of years he’s had trouble with it when the outside temperature gets above 90. It doesn’t overheat; it just stops running. We were about 30 miles (out of 400) into our trip and hadn’t even gotten down out of the mountains yet when bro pulled off to the side of the road. The van had quit. Mom moved into my car, we made sure bro had enough water and food in case he had to wait for the sun to go down before he could get it running again, and then we continued on our way. I felt bad for leaving him there, and so did Mom, but there was nothing else to be done. As we drove down out of the mountains, Mom said a prayer for the van to start working again.

We pulled into our first scheduled pit stop and went directly to the ladies room. When we came out, we were delighted to see my brother waiting for us. He had siphoned a couple gallons of gas out of his motorcycle (strapped to the rear bumper) to put in the van, and it started right up. Mom was convinced this was an answer to her prayer. As Bro put it, “Well, that’s better than thinking her son is an idiot who ran out of gas.” Thankfully, the rest of the trip went smoothly and there were no further vehicle issues. With the extra stops, the usually seven-hour drive took us nine hours door to door. I’m so glad I won’t have to make that drive again anytime soon!

The move-in went smoothly as well, with two strong guys to do the heavy work and my friend Joy to help me with unpacking, making the bed, etc. We arrived just before lunch, so Joy took my mom down to the dining room while the rest of us brought everything in. I’d hoped we would have time to get the furniture in place before Mom saw the room, but she ate quickly and insisted on coming up. I guess she was eager to see her new space and that’s understandable. I was worried the single room would be disappointing to her, but she seems to like it just fine. Three days later, Bro and I are still working on the finishing touches – getting her little kitchenette set up, hanging shelves and art on the walls. It’s already beginning to look like home and the only thing she’s complained about is the clutter of half-unpacked boxes and tools lying about the room. My plan is to have it all neat and orderly before I go back to work on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, today I took Mom to get her hair done so that she’ll look nice for church tomorrow. Now we just have to find a church…

Countdown

Five days from now I’ll be on my way to Arizona to bring my mom to California.

This afternoon I saw her room at the new assisted living community for the first time. Empty, it’s fairly unremarkable – just a short hallway leading to a 16×12 room with a bathroom and closet – but the carpet is new and the bathroom is sparkling clean. The room was stuffy even with the window open, so the first thing we did was set up the oscillating fan I brought. Then we measured all the walls and planned where the furniture will go. I keep vacillating between excitement about having Mom close by and anxiety that might be disappointed that she gave up her luxurious apartment to come here.

My friend Joy met me there to help take measurements and explored the facility with me. It’s a converted hotel and it definitely has a hotel feel – which, as Joy pointed out, is much better than feeling like a hospital. We looked at the big activity calendar posted on the wall and talked about things my mom might like to do and how we could help her get a Scrabble game started there in the evenings. Joy has been an activity director at nursing homes, so she’s the perfect person to help me make sure that Mom gets acclimated and socialized in her new home. She offered to help on move-in day and I’m thinking I’ll ask her to keep Mom entertained while my brother and I move in the furniture. I think if Mom sees the room for the first time filled with her familiar furniture, that will make a much better first impression than the empty room.

I am excited about having Mom here, about being able to see her a couple times a week instead of one visit every couple months. I keep thinking about restaurants she might like and fun things we can do together, like Music in the Park next summer. There will be such peace of mind knowing that she’s only two miles away and I can check on her any time I want. Maybe, once she’s settled in, I’ll have more energy to focus on building my own life again. A new chapter in both our lives is about to begin.