Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Moving Home - the continuing journey

Many of you have been following my family's journey with our two sets of elderly parents. My mom's squared away in a perfect retirement village, happy and traveling with new companions following the loss of my father.

It's my in-laws that have been challenging the family lately. They have been reluctant to give up the home where they have lived for the past 55+ years. However, with their mobility diminishing (neither drive much anymore), loss of friends, neighbors and their social circle, and home repairs and maintenance that are simply too tough for them to handle any longer, the time has come for them to make a change.

Fortunately, my sister-in-law determined to make it her mission to convince them to move. She toured retirement communities with them until they located one very close to their home that they really like.

Three weeks ago, we all met at the retirement community for lunch and a tour. Walking through, we all commented on how much they will be gaining by this move - not giving up. They finally agreed, too.

The following weekend they put their home on the market. My mother-in-law threw a fit when the "for sale" sign went up on the lawn (she didn't want a sign), but a few days later a young couple, renting in the neighborhood, walked by and saw the sign. The papers have been signed and, even in this very slow market, the house sold in a matter of days.

Last week the in-laws went to a Hawaiian luau at their new community. They came home happy about the decision they've made, and really looking forward to the move.

Whew! It's been quite a journey for us all. Our one goal: to see the folks more active and more involved with others. In short, to see them happy again. They are both very social people by nature. My mother-in-law had at least 3 social groups she belonged to for more than 60 years - one composed of the other mothers whom she met in the hospital giving birth to my husband! One by one, her group members have died or moved away. My father-in-law loved to golf, go to the beach, and play cards. Over the past few years, their circle has gradually shrunk to their living room, with only each other for companionship.

They, as so many others today, have been blessed with a long life. My father-in-law is 96; my mother-in-law close behind. Living fully, right to the end of life, can mean tough choices and tough decisions.

But in the end, living fully, all the way to the end, is the difference between just existing, and truly gaining the richness and joy that life has to offer.

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