Friday, March 02, 2007
You see, this week he moved his mom from her apartment of 35 years. Under normal circumstances moving is very stressful. Moving a person who, even when she was young had the title of "difficult" and is now in her late 70's, is truly the testing grounds for the honor.
Not only is my mother-in-law difficult, she's also a "premiere packrat" and on a very fixed income. Thanks to the internet we found several "affordable senior housing" projects, checked them out and put her name on the lists. Finally, one became available-and at only twice the amount as her rent-controlled abode. Oh, and with half the space.
I never knew where my father-in-law actually put his things when he was alive. And I understood from the get-go why my sister-in-law and husband fled the place moments after removing their high school caps and gowns-NO ROOM!
My very patient spouse started preparing her for downsizing a year ago. He let her know what she'd be able to keep and what she had to giveaway (in one way or another). With every visit, he would go through and literally dump more of her "cherished" things. There has been (all on her part) yelling, crying, whining and many attempts at retrieving. Through it all her son remained gentle, firm and steady. I never heard him raise his voice once. This last week, the two of us did the last of the packing, he was there for the entire move and the next couple of days to help get her settled. Unforturnately, he also had to tell her half of what she brought had "to go".
She pleaded and said he couldn't tell her what she could keep. He asked quietly "Do you want to have a bed? Do you want to walk in here? Then you must get rid of what you don't use, period".
Thinking I would rescue her, she asked me how I could put up with her brute of a son? I replied "Oh, I'm much worse than he is, you're are the luckiest mother on the earth to have such a wonderful child. Now, let's get rid of your 4 muffin pans and the 2 boxes marked empty folders. While you're at it, let's get rid of the dozen rolls of contact paper."
In the 27 years I've known her she's never made muffins. Same holds true for the 5 cake pans, three 12 quart soup pots and the four sets of dishes. Trust me when I say, cooking is not a talent you associate with my mother-in-law. She's majored in using paper plates for at least the last decade.
Next was a phone call to my mother-hoping for another older woman's help. Too bad, didn't work. My mom told her to throw out these things and start her new life-clean and uncluttered. "What do you need with a half dozen sets of bed sheets for a cot you no longer have?" Then my mom did the cardinal sin, she added that most of what she was holding onto needed to be trashed years ago. That got a phone slamming, let me tell you!
On the plus side: The neighborhood is completely safe. The complex is fairly new. Many of the new tenants have already been knocking at her door and welcoming her. Best of all, there are planned activities and a market a half mile away. For the first time in her life, she has a dishwasher, air conditioning and a private patio. It will be up to her whether or not she makes the best of her new life. Another definite plus- my husband will no longer have to endure over two hour drives in traffic to visit her.
How my husband still has his sanity, low blood pressure and sense of humor is a miracle! Truly a testimony if not for sainthood, he should at least get a halo and wings.