As usual it’s been an eventful year and a half. These letters end up being not only an informative “here’s what’s been happening with us” commentary, but also a bit of a journal for me. Wish I had time to journal on a daily basis, but it ends up being this – the once a year holiday letter to friends and family. So now I have to remember what’s happened in the last year – a test for my mid-life, fifty-something brain. Here goes:
Tim and I take one of our semi-annual treks to Norwood. We’d been working on mom for quite some time to make the decision to move out to Ohio. Miraculously, she does. Wow. And so the checklists begin.
I spend the next several weeks searching for a “place for mom” (wasn’t that a movie?). She’s been on a waiting list at an assisted living facility for years and is first in line for an apartment there. Is the timing right? I visit the complex again – nope, the time isn’t right. Need to step her down into something “else”. Again, miraculously, I find a one story, ADA equipped, brand spanking new apartment with a 2 car attached garage. Perfect. Mom’s new home.
Now we need to equip the apartment with some essentials to make it feel homey until mom’s household goods arrive. I frequent estate sales and peruse Craig’s list for furniture and kitchen items. We end up equipping the apartment with everything she’d ever need for under $1000. Beautiful like-new Lazy Boy couch & 2 Queen Anne chairs, 2 twin beds, bureau, kitchen items, pictures & multiple other items. She could start off brand new! We wouldn’t even need to move anything! Nope – she wanted EVERYTHING from her home of 50 years. EVERYTHING! So I started calling movers for quotes.
Tim’s been working at a little restaurant down the street. I’m still at DayMark.
The week before the week of Thanksgiving, I make the trip to Norwood to gather mom. She’s okay with selling the house right away. So we meet with a realtor. We meet with a stager. We meet with a contractor, we meet with movers. We pack a bag, she takes one last look and we’re off to the airport. Wow. My mom is leaving my childhood home and her home of 50 years. And she didn’t shed a tear. I can’t believe it. It really is time.
She gets to Ohio and seems to like the apartment okay (although it isn’t home ). I get her set up with a homemaker and a life line.
We have a lovely Thanksgiving that following week and spend as much time with her as we can in the next few weeks to make sure she’s comfortable and adapting. I actually manage to throw up a few holiday decorations and do some Christmas shopping. We have a holiday gathering with Tim’s kids and my mom meets the people that I’ve told her about for years. And then it’s off to Norwood again to close down the house.
My company decides it’s going to merge its divisions.
The week before Christmas I arrive at 18 Irving St. with my checklist in hand. I contact the Salvation Army, Easter Seals and a local auctioneer (who turned out to be a total snob). I made arrangements for a dumpster and to have a “red light” system set up to alert her good neighbors in case the furnace went on the fritz over the winter. And then I proceeded to tear apart and sort through the memories – a job that I’d been dreading my whole adult life.
The berm outside her house filled up with things that I was hoping I wouldn’t have to throw away, but that I knew she didn’t need or want and had no memory value. So the EVERYTHING that she wanted really had to be cut down a bit. I put in a “free at the curb” add on Craig’s list and the scavengers arrived. The items slowly disappeared. The Salvation Army took bags of old clothes and Easter Seals took some of the furniture. The dumpster filled up. And then the movers arrived to start the packup. We used Atlas and they were just fantastic. I couldn’t believe that I was asking them to pack up some of the old, dirty items that I knew she wouldn’t need, but also that I knew she would want. And they did.
My mom’s next door neighbors, Dave & Marlene, were great. They’d been my backup for years, coming to mom’s rescue when she wasn’t well and I couldn’t be there. And here they were again, actually rearranging and getting INTO the dumpster to stomp everything down to make it all fit. I cried.
And then the house was empty. I had a cleaning company come in to wash the windows and do a general cleaning even though contractors were coming in shortly to start the update project to get it ready for sale. I couldn’t leave it any other way. I said goodbye to the house, my childhood and the neighbors, spent the night in a hotel, and had one last New England meal before I left for the airport for the trip back to Ohio.
A few days before Christmas, her household goods arrived. We managed to have a nice, but quiet Christmas. And then the unpacking started. The “where is this?” questions were endless, and having been through several moves myself, I knew that it would probably take a year to get her unpacked. And it has! And although we’re still not completely done, the important stuff has been located.
And we discover that my cat, Mason, has had a bit of a problem and has been urinating on my living room carpet. For months. So now the vet appointments start.
So the move was completed, but now we needed to get the house sold. The realtor we’d hired referred us to a stager who referred us to a contractor. We needed to have the wallpaper stripped, the whole house kill-stained (to get rid of the cigarette smoke smell) and painted. We needed to have the floors stripped and refinished, the bathrooms rehabbed and the electrical brought up to code. The kitchen counter needed to be replaced. And then once we got into it, we found some structural items that needed to be addressed and plumbing that needed to be rerouted. And we spent the next several months taking care of these issues.
I start setting up the doctor, dentist, opthalmalogy, hair & nail appointments for mom. Along with attorney and financial advisor appointments to ensure her estate is set up as it needs to be.
Mason is quarantined and on an antibiotic.
I am reassigned to work under the VP of Sales & Marketing.
And then the updates were finished and it was time to get the house on the market. Our realtor had an open house the first week of March. It was a beautiful day – a Norman Rockwell scene we were told – with children playing ball in the street and the neighbors out working in their yards. We had 40 people come through. And 3 offers right off the bat. We declined one immediately and then had 2 competing with each other. We ended up with an offer that was more than our asking price. A perfect scenario. And then the inspection happened. And we spent weeks negotiating through the 32 pages of issues.
Mason is taken in for testing and his UTI isn’t gone. He’s quarantined again and on another antibiotic.
My stress level at work has gone down working for my new boss. Phew!
And suddenly it seemed, the house sale had closed. It was odd how it ended – we weren’t even sure that all the issues had been resolved, and then the closing was set and we had a check in our hand shortly afterward. . . . And an era ended.
Mason is taken in for testing again. His UTI appears to be cleared up and he resumes life in the main part of the house. He’s now on a food regime that includes lots of water.
Mom gets a toothache and has to have her remaining two teeth pulled. . . and new dentures made . . . and now the endless dentist appointments start.
June – November, 2012
Along with the unpacking, rearranging and picture hanging, doctor, eye and dentist appointments, we have managed to get out and have some fun. We’ve gone to JC Penney for new curtains and she told me she hadn’t been in a department store for years. We go to the superstore and she buzzes around it in one of their scooters and gets to see all kinds of new things and pick out the food she wants. She loves her new hair stylist, gets a regular pedicure and we go out for dinner as often as we can.
In June we replaced our living room carpet and painted the room.
In August, Tim & I took an actual vacation - road trip to Minneapolis and Wisconsin to see friends and then to the Upper Peninsula.
In September we spent a night at the bed and breakfast in Toledo just to "get away" for a weekend.
In October, we took a long weekend to Holmes County (where the Amish people live!), Ohio. Stayed in a beautiful bed and breakfast there, too.
And, so, here we are. We’re all getting into a bit of a routine now. Mom's homemakers are in regularly, her doctor is now familiar with her complaints, her physical therapist is keeping her on her feet and her dentist thinks she’s funny. She has several restaurants that she likes and has gone to the opera. We’ve had another lovely Christmas gathering with Tim’s kids and are going to a holiday symphony concert this month. And we’re hoping to get her to a holiday light show at the Toledo Zoo if the weather cooperates.
My company is having its ups and downs. We’ve lost several employees over the last several months (which they were hoping for) and they can’t seem to figure out what’s going to work to get them into a profitable position. They’ve rolled out a company-wide system change that hasn't worked right from day one and my work load is a little crazy right now. I refuse to take work home and try not to put in too much overtime (which means nothing when you’re salaried). I’m still dreaming of having a tearoom someday. Hopefully, it will be sooner than later. I really rather dislike the corporate world and never wanted to be here.
Tim lost his job at the restaurant, decided to get into the estate sale business and is staying busy buying and selling retro items.
So - that's the story for year of 2012. Can't wait to see what next year brings!
Much love to all of you this season and always!
Lynn, Tim, Sally, Sara, Mason & Ariel