Friday, September 4, 2009

Time to Blossom Again

Above, a photo of a Duchess of Edinburgh clematis bud ready to blossom in the September sun.
Below, another that has already opened its pretty white petals. This is a rare second blossoming for this clematis, which usually blooms late-spring, early-summer.
My family has been helping my Mom sell her house and buy a new home (an apartment/condo), and it has been stressful for everyone, but I'm hoping that it will give Mom an opportunity to bloom again. She's fiercely convinced that she's not ready for, and would not be happy in, an Assisted Living facility of any sort, and she has, indeed, been managing the house and garden on her own for the several months since my sister and her family moved into their new place (they lived with Mom since Dad died nine years ago, a mutually-beneficial arrangement that also let the rest of us off the hook. But which may have disguised some of mom's frailties.) Managing the house and garden to a point, that is, with one sister overseeing the bill-paying, a grandson mowing the lawn, brothers and sisters visiting regularly to find the doors unlocked to anyone who might wander in . . .
The For Sale sign barely went up before a good offer came along and was accepted with No Subjects, moving to happen end of this month! The condo in a good building, near Mom's brother, the view she fell in love with was offered on, countered, counter-countered, and a deal struck -- all of this within three or four days. A relief in many ways, but undoubtedly a stressful flurry of activity even if Mom was guided through by my sister, the paralegal, and a long-time realtor friend of the family. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, another sister got a tearful phone call yesterday as she headed to work -- Mom didn't know what to do, she had to move out of her house that day, and there was no one to help her, and she had no moving boxes! Unsurprising, perhaps. But so distressing. While there have been memory problems and some small confusions from time to time, my mother's quiet nature has disguised any larger gaps between reality and her version of it.
Of course reassurances were made, some coping strategies have been put in place (very clear notes placed strategically -- phone, fridge -- reminding mom of the help she has, the limits to what she has to do, what the sequence of events will be). We've ramped down the plans for garage-saling surplus furniture and buying new -- the doctor suggests the familiarity of older furniture will help make the condo seem like home. We're working with her to pot up plants from her garden to fill the terrace of her new home. We're arranging a roster of sleepovers so she needn't go to bed or get up alone in a new place.
And we're crossing our fingers. At worst, a stack of dollars in real-estate fees will have been spent on this experiment (and, as mom says, at least they're going to a friend!). At best, Mom will have some time on her own in a new home near her brother (who looks forward to visiting her daily), with the library, the mall, the senior's community centre all only steps away. I hope that like these clematis blooms and my lovely Graham Thomas roses, she might have a chance to enjoy a surprising extra late-season bloom.


  1. Mater, how old is your mother? Mine is 77. I spent yesterday in the car with her. She's married, happily, and they live quite independently. But I was aware yesterday that should her husband go first, it would be an entirely different situation.

  2. I have to imagine this must be so difficult for all of you. Change of this magnitude is hard at any age, but after years of living in the same home, it will take some adjusting on your mother's part. A great aunt of my husband's who lost her husband last year recently moved from her home of two decades to a senior apartment complex near her daughter and son-in-law (some 500 miles away from her prior home). She's adjusted beautifully, and *loves* her new home/ community and being nearer to family. I'm holding you all in my thoughts for a smooth transition.

  3. All of this must be very stressful for your mother, and in fact for all involved. It is marvelous however that things have happened so expiditiously. I hope she settles in well and adjusts to her new space. It seems like it will be a good situation for her, with hopefully a little less worry for those who care about her.

  4. My mother too is moving, down sizing and going to live near my batty sister number 2. But she is returning to a city she loves with many old friends. She is younger than your mother but I am pleased she is doing this now not later as the longer you leave it the harder it must be.
    I have been the happy recipient of some of her cuttings too.
    My very, very old aunt has just found a lovely home, but the cost is a whopping £400 a week! but what price round the clock care?
    I hope your mother settles in.

  5. LPC: Mine is 78, and I know many women much older (mom's older sister included) who are still very mentally sharp, with good memories. And mom can be, when she's not feeling overwhelmed. You're right -- being on her own makes a big difference.
    Pseu: It's a huge change and I've just got my fingers crossed it will "take." Wonderful that your husband's GA has done so well with such a big move after a big loss.
    Mardel: I think in many ways the speediness, although disorienting, will turn out to be a good thing before long. Time will tell.
    Alison: I think it is better to do the downsizing earlier, altho' Mom loved being in her house because of the garden, and with my sister's family there it worked well. I do hope we get more systems in place before our huge generation of baby boomers hits our old age -- tricky, though, with so few taxpayers coming up behind to support us!

  6. Hi! Memories of my mother came back, as I read your post. My father died in 1986 ( he was 11 years older than my mother ). After his death my mother moved 4 times, every time to a more suitable apartment. Finally, she could not live by her own, not even with a lot of help. Many times she was found on the floor, unable to get up by her own. Finally she was willing to go to a care home, where there was help 24/7. She was not happy there at all, and I felt really guilty not being able to arrange any other form of care for her, as she refused to go to a private care home with high fees. Being her only child, meant that I had to take care of her matters/ visit her more than was healthy for me too. My state of anxiety increased, and the last two years have been the toughest I have ever experienced. My mother has always been mentally ill, she was constantly on a bad mood, she was suspicious and envied everyone else. Physically she could have managed in a apartment of her own, but mentally she was extremely independent. Having read your posts for a long time, I sense the strong bond of caring in your family. Everyone seems to take her/his part. For that, I´m really happy. I´m sure, that your mother will appreciate these changes as time goes by. As someone already said, `moving´ is one crisis in a person´s life. As we get older, all changes in our lives, play an even greater role and adjusting to the changes can be extremely difficult. I think that your family has done very well !

  7. Whew, what an intense time.

    My experience, like Mardel's was that for years, my mother needed more supports than she would accept. I'm sure you've thought of this: impt. to have someone pop by for both scheduled visits and impromptu ones.

    My mother grew so defensive that she at times manufactured quarrels so she would not speak to us, and could therefore hide her physical condition. (She had no memory issues.)

    I so hope that view she loves is a pleasure, comfort and confirmation to her about this new phase of her life.

  8. Wow, Metscan, I have had such an easy time compared to you! My father's illness was difficult and protracted, but we were able to share caring for him and he was pretty amazing in bringing us all together. Having gone through that, over 9 years ago, we've worked out a pretty decent relationship, plus mom is fairly easy to get along with. Her biggest problem is her shyness and the anxieties of having to ask for help.
    Duchesse: Mom used to say she'd rather collect pop bottles for cash and live off that than be dependent on anyone in her old age (not sure why that extreme analogy came to her mind!) -- now, though, she seems quite relieved that we'll be looking after her move. I've letting her know that we'll take turns staying overnight with her for the first few weeks in her new place and she's very pleased and grateful. Now just to get through the next six weeks smoothly . . .


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