As published in the Savannah Morning News - 6 January 2013
MOVING MY MOM...I GET IT!!!
In December, I moved my Mom. Wow, I have a new empathy for Baby Boomers who are facing this passage in life. Even though I help families sell their homes and move into new ones, moving my own mother was a whole different ball game! So, I will share our story, but first, I would like to introduce you to my mother, Mary. I have enclosed a photo of us taken this Christmas.
I love my Mom, and we are very close, so I don’t want you to take this the wrong way. Frequently, I see family members going through exactly what was happening to us, but I always played the intermediary position. This time there was just Mom and me, and I think this move was one of God’s cruel lessons. I will not print anything here that I have not already told my mother, so not to worry! She already brags that she was my toughest move of all times!
Even though I do move management for a living, you can’t charge your own mother…can you? Of course not! However, perceived value is what someone is willing to pay for your service, and when you pay, you listen to your hired expert…don’t you? So it stands to reason that if it’s free, well, you get the idea! I reminded Mom (several times) that I did know what I was doing, and that she was going to have to trust me. I helped her sort and pack her whole house without my crew, but we had a deadline, and things did not progress at a pace that was necessary to get the job done by closing.
Mom swore I was getting her back for all the years she told me what to do. I swore she was as stubborn as a goat, and realized she got it from my Swedish grandmother. We did have a few laughs along the way, and probably someday I’ll look back and remember them fondly. Someday.
After weeks of toil, I needed Jettie. I brought in my beloved Move Manager, Jettie Hearn, to serve as our mediator! I now fully understand the part I play in other family’s moves, and Jettie became me.
Jettie and I have a one touch rule: pick up an object once, decide its fate, and don’t delay until later.
Mom will admit that she had a hard time making choices, but Jettie was my secret weapon and just the help I needed. Mom knew that when Jettie was there, she was going to be making the decisions she would not make with me. They were magical together!
There was only one problem. We moved two truckloads instead of one, and we had to completely reverse our normal procedures to accommodate all the boxes. Mom refused to shed some extras…okay, a lot of extras, and now she can do it at her leisure, alone, and without me…for years to come. There are boxes everywhere, and she now spends her days deciding what to keep, and what to donate or discard. Not my idea of the ideal move, but then this one was different.
The best part about Mom’s move: we did floor plan the new residence and the furniture looks terrific! We sold some things and consigned some, and donated quite a bit. We helped out a family who recently survived a fire, donated a bunch to the Reed House, a new mental health facility coming soon to Savannah, and gave a load to the Humane Society. I was proud of Mom for making those decisions and she was feeling good about giving up her beautiful furnishings to great causes.
There is something more I want to discuss, something I have not written about until today. We, the adult children, cannot discount the emotions we feel when we go through our parent’s belongings. Our folks feel the pain, knowing they cannot take it all, and there are so many memories that get in the way. Many times we have to make the choices for them. I found myself in tears, with boxes of family photos and over 80 years of belongings before me, and it was, and is, emotionally tough for me as a daughter. I understand how you feel, about the fear of what’s ahead, and knowing this move is a big one.
I pass Mom’s street on my way home and can’t help but get choked up, knowing she is no longer there. Mom is now only 15 minutes away in a continuing care retirement community, happily living in an adorable cottage with a patio and garden. But it’s not the same as having her two streets away. It can feel as though she’s really gone, and I can’t handle that thought, so I push it out of my heart and my mind, and say a Prayer of Thanks that I still have my mom in my life.
Best wishes for a New Year full of hope, happiness, good health and prosperity, and may it be filled with love, friendships, and dear family that we continue to hold close to our hearts.
Next week on Moving Mom...Should We Update the House before Selling? Stay tuned!