Moving Day for My 90-Year-Old Mom
Several months ago, I visited my elderly mother in Florida to help her consider moving into an independent living facility with congregate dining. She and I, her best friend, and my aunt went on a tour of Forest Trace in Lauderhill, Florida. All three older adults plunked down a deposit on an apartment. The die was cast.
I went back down to Florida, the weekend before last, to help my mother move. That was my deal with her when I encouraged her to make this big change. It took four days for my daughter and I to unpack all the boxes, find a place for everything, and get her settled. Moving day was very hard for my 90-year-old mom. She felt disoriented and in a fog. I whisked her off to her new place so that she could hang out with her best friend, who had moved there two weeks earlier. I could see she was having a tough time.
When I left, all of her pictures were up on the wall, and everything looked fresh and in order. She was pleased. And after a good nights sleep, she felt like herself again.
My daughter and I got to eat breakfast and dinner with the residents. I marveled at the age of some of the diners! One of the staff told me that there were 5 residents over 100 years of age—one was 105! I would say that the majority of residents were in their late 80’s and early 90’s.
My mother ate her meals with an appetite I hadn’t seen in a long time. Living alone in her previous apartment, unable to drive, having difficulty with shopping, cooking, and cleaning she was eating a lot of canned soup—and losing weight. I could see she was going to enjoy eating her meals with her good friend, her sister-in-law, and some old friends that had also moved into the residence.
I have to admit that my daughter and I were the youngest diners eating by a long shot. I saw lots of very old adults, moving slowly, but very deliberately. I was very impressed with how friendly and helpful the residents were to each other. One of my mother’s old friends greeted my mother on move in day—“Welcome to your new home! We will take care of you.”
If we are lucky, we may make it to 90 years old with all of our brain cells in tact and reasonable health. Indeed, the fastest growing age group in the United States is the 85 year olds and up. I don’t think many of my mother’s peers thought they would make it to be such oldsters. Many of their parents died at a much younger age.
Growing old does have it’s down side too. Shirley, 94, my mother’s good friend has experienced all of her old friends pass away. One of my mother’s best friends, age 93, was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While I was helping my mother move, she found out that another close friend, 89, was diagnosed with colon cancer. My mother was shaken.
When you talk to these older adults, I hear one theme—the importance and value of family. They don’t talk much about their accomplishments during their working life. They share stories about their children, grandchildren, and yes, if they are fortunate, great grand children. Their apartments are filled with pictures of their loved ones. They live for family visits—delighting in the affection they feel for their family. They soak up the love and attention they receive. They are sponges for care and kindness.
These flowers, with fragile stalks and delicate blossoms, stay bright and colorful, watered by love.
As I fly home, these wise elders have reminded me of what is really important in our lives—basking in the glow of love.
Don’t ever forget it.