Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Moving Day - Getting the Folks into Retirement Housing

Last weekend, over the Labor Day holiday, we moved my husband's parents out of their home of 55 years and into a retirement apartment.

We all worried about them that last night in their home. Would they feel remorse over the sale and decision to move? Would they be grief-stricken at the thought of actually moving out?

As the family converged early Saturday morning - kids, grandkids, aunts and uncles - we were met by two busy, scurrying people, laughing and working hard to pack the last few things in the house. Both were clearly eager to move on with their lives; neither showed any sign of sadness.

I usually get elected to have the heart-to-heart with the folks to make sure they're really coping OK. As I took my mother-in-law aside to check in with her, she was beaming. "I can't wait to be as happy as all of those other people living there," she said. Clearly, she was ready to make the move.

Later, I asked my dad-in-law how he was doing. He started reciting a list of repairs needed to the house - roof, electrical, plumbing - ending with a big sigh. "I don't have to worry about any of those things now - I couldn't be more relieved."

The move went smoothly. The stuff they couldn't part with was pretty much crammed into their new 1 bedroom apartment, but they were smiling and happy. As the entire family sat down for lunch together in the retirement community's dining room, we all felt a sense of accomplishment and a hope of the promise: tomorrow will be better. We won't have to worry about them being alone and isolated in their house. They don't have to navigate stairs, mow the lawn and climb up on ladders anymore.

A couple of years ago when this whole process began I had a conversation with my mom-in-law about moving. What I said then, and believe today, is that where you live is much less important than how you live. I believe that this move will make a qualitative difference in the HOW of my loved ones' lives.

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