What a journey it has been. It has taken five long months but we have finally emptied Mom and Dad’s house and the “For Sale” sign is in the yard. Now, it’s the realtors turn to make things happen and my brother and I can take a long awaited deep breath.
My emotions these last few months have run the gamut; from grief to elation, from dread to eager anticipation. Although difficult at times, it has been a privilege that is difficult to put into words. My hands have literally touched every item that ever mattered to my parents. I’ve cried over the love letters that were lovingly hidden away and giggled over the childish art that Mom kept from the time we were old enough to hold a crayon. Hidden deeply in a cedar chest, I uncovered the scrapbook made by a beautiful young woman as she planned her wedding. As my fingers caressed the surface of an old frying pan, I remembered the smell of chicken frying on Sunday afternoons. Memories of impromptu picnics washed over me and with them, feelings of gratitude. Yes, I am thankful to have so many wonderful memories to pack up.
As hard as this has been, I know it doesn’t compare to what my Mom must be feeling. The partner that she built this lifetime with no longer remembers doing it. The home she created was a haven for her family and many friends too. Then one day, her children asked her to walk away with only a few token reminders of the 55 years she spent in the home she loved. We expected her to listen as we made plans for estate sales, ebay sales, and donations to charity – of all the things she loved. Through it all, she has never let us see her tears. She has been strong, for us, but only she knows how it feels to be a mother, looking at life from where she stands.
Dad has mostly recovered from his respiratory illness. Interestingly, it seems as if he has lost the memory of the last five months and is having to once again adjust to his new living arrangement. We are seeing a progression in his lost inhibition. His behavior is becoming more and more crude with frequent cursing (something my Dad never did) and loud, deliberate burping. It embarrasses my Mom even though though all those around her understand that this is the Alzheimer’s and not her husband.
So, while there is time (before the next crisis), I am going to enjoy this moment. I am going to take that deep breath and allow the memory of this journey to take its place in my heart. I will remind myself that this is life and there is more to come, more memories to be made.