My 89 year old mother called one day last year and asked me to come for lunch. Not an unusual request but she said she had something to talk about. I didn’t think much of it because she liked to talk about life and how it was going. Half way through the meal she said, “I’ve decided to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico since you will be building a house there.” I was surprised but not overwhelmed. It seemed we had this conversation about her wanting to make a move multiple times and she was still in her house.
My mother is very active and independent. She has many friends and is always out an about. She loves her lunches with her girlfriend Mary, who when together act like teenage girls, and her Companions Prayer Group. She has wonderful neighbors who look out for her and call me if there are any problems. Her mental cognitive abilities are intact and I think her memory is sharper than mine. The women in her family live to 100 with full faculties.
I began to question her as to the motivation of the move. I didn’t want to get excited if this was just another fleeting idea. She told me she had decided she wanted to be near me when she was at the end of her life. She was ready to sell the house and move. She had enough paying high taxes and surviving long, cold winters. This time I could see she was serious.
And it was off to the races. We visited Santa Fe and discovered a wonderful three tiered senior complex, two blocks from the Santa Fe Plaza. She liked it because it had a beautiful library. We didn’t pick a specific apartment at the time but she filed the paper work and put down a deposit.
When we got home, I had another lunch with her to set a timeline. I was under the assumption that I would be doing most of the work. I thought I would have to nudge her to pick a time frame to move. I had in my mind we would move in a year, the following September or October. Again she surprised me and said, “Oh no, dear, I want to be there by June.” It was late September. I reminded her I wouldn’t be out there living yet. It didn’t bother her at all.
The winter was very hard on my mother. There was a blizzard and her lights were out for two days. The roads were closed and I couldn’t get to her. The neighbors checked on her and took her to their houses to get warm. But when it was over, she was ready to get going. She said she couldn’t do it again. I went into high gear and visited Santa Fe, to get pictures of available apartments. By April, she had picked the apartment, sent the money and was organizing the redesign.
During this time, I thought I was going to be the one who had to make decisions. But this was not the case. My mother, to my surprise, was completely engaged in the process. She was not going to allow me to pick colors or carpeting. I only stepped in when to make sure it was done timely and the emails reached the right person.
Then came the selling of the house. I was sure my mother would need my help and I insisted my husband be there when she met with the realtor. It did help but that was all she needed. She sold her house in two weeks and the closing was the end of June. She continued to make decisions and sometimes she would talk to me first. They were all good decisions.
Next was the cleaning out of the house she had lived in for 40 years. She had actually started the process int he winter. Again, I thought I was going to have to do most of the work but I was wrong. She had been merciless with throwing out papers and household stuff. She didn’t keep much anyway except in the basement which flooded a week before the move and most everything had to get thrown out anyway. She hired her handyman to move garbage and big items, called her consignment agent to come and get furniture, and organized the movers. My role was to do cleanup and move some smaller items.
I keep waiting for the melt down to occur. I keep asking her how is she feeling about moving away from all her friends. Her response just yesterday was, ” When I decided to make the move and I want to remind you it was completely my decision, I left all this behind. I can’t be sad about the move. ”
I have watched my mother become revitalized and engaged in the process. She gets tired but rests and starts over. There have been so many parties and dinners for her. She had never expressed sadness. She keeps telling her friends, not to be sad because she wants to do this. She says she is old and wants to be close to her daughter when her time is over. At 89, she has been given a new lease on life. I have come to think she always wanted to do something like this. It is an amazing process to watch.
My mother has completely surprised me. She has moved out of her house and is with me for a few weeks until her Santa Fe apartment is ready. She’s not sad or having mover’s remorse. Who knew my mother had such determination and courage!