Friday 14 April 2017

The Surprising Things I Learned About My Mom When She Moved

It seems like my Mom has been moving for months. It feels like over the past while, my sister and I have been operating in semi-crisis mode with our mother. She moved out of her apartment a few weeks ago, but we didn't know if her new residence would be a good fit. So yesterday was the day that the van actually arrived at Mom's old apartment to move Mom's chosen furniture, favourite paintings and boxes of essentials. My sister and I filled our cars with everything that might be useful at the cottage and our husbands lugged boxes of old Christmas cards and broken lamps ("they might be fixed one day!") to the dumpster in the parking lot outside.

For the last few years, Mom hasn't eaten well and she's become more frail. Finally, the decision was made to relocate her to assisted living and luckily, we found a small home (18 residents) nearby in a lovely location on the water, in a wooded park. Mom actually began living at her new residence a few weeks ago, but we just moved everything out of her old place yesterday. Mom's new residence is a large Victorian house with big balconies, front and back. It's at the end of an historic village row of shops, now popular with tourists. But it's more than just the view that makes this a great move for Mom. It's the wonderful staff.

Three days ago Mom had a breathing emergency - the paramedics were called and she spent the night in hospital having tests and receiving oxygen therapy. When she came back to the residence, all her helpers gathered by Mom's bed. "We missed you!" said the director, giving Mom a gentle hug. "Nonsense", Mom stated in her usual, very direct manner. "We did so! I mean, there's only one of you! And thank God for that!", countered the director. Everyone, Mom included, burst out laughing. Then we wiped tears of love and laughter from our cheeks and began again to discuss the details of furniture arranging in Mom's room.

Packing up boxes of memories in Mom's apartment was a revelation. I discovered so many things about my mother that I had never known before. I didn't know that she kept diaries of her travels, for example! I was delighted to discover that Mom noted all kinds of details of her trip to visit us in Moscow in 1978 during our first diplomatic posting there. Memories of her visit flooded back. And I found all the letters that I had written to her from our time in Moscow, London and Washington DC. My Mom even kept a 'good box' of praiseworthy art that my sister and I did in elementary school.

My life growing up in our family with my Mom (who was often a mystery to me as most mothers are to their children) was revealed with love, flaws and secrets in all the objects and papers that Mom saved. Now my sister and I will treasure these things and we will keep them for our children to discover again when we move to assisted living.

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