We were tired. We meaning Dan and I, and my sister and brother-in-law, Linda and Phil. The four of us worked really hard moving my mom from a two room senior apartment into a studio apartment. Alex also helped us immensely with the large and/or technical items. John, Joe, Barb and Joseph all worked the next day and beyond to haul away and take care of the leftovers. We decided to move my mom to stretch the dollars.
It all started about a month ago, when Linda and I went to talk with the manager of where she lived. The care group owner had mentioned the idea of moving my mom to a studio. My mom is 98; she doesn’t need a lot of space. While sitting in the office, the manager said, “There is a studio opening up in about a month. It is the apartment right next door to your mom.” As soon as she said those words, I knew it was a sign from above. This was meant to be.
As the month went by, we worked on getting rid of things my mom no longer needed. As moving day drew nearer, I explained to my mom about the new apartment. I even took her over there and showed her the place. She said, “Okay. Yes, it is fine.” She’s very agreeable and pleasant, but honestly, she wasn’t really engaged either way.
Soon enough, the day came where Dan and I could go into the apartment and figure out where everything would go and what things from her old apartment would find a new home.
When entering the new apartment, there is a short hallway with a closet and a kitchenette on the right. At the end of the hall, there is a room which is 12 by 12.5 foot. There is a closet on the left wall. On the opposite wall, there is a nice big window. And on the wall in between, there is a door to the bathroom, a short area for the tv, and then the door to the outside.
The first five minutes I was in that room, I thought, “This is not going to work. It’s too small!” The small size of the studio overwhelmed me. We need three feet of walking space in too many areas, I thought. I voiced my concern to Dan, and he replied, “It’ll work. It’ll be nice.” That and a deep breath was all I needed to become solution oriented.
So now, one could say my mom is part of the tiny house movement. While not quite a minimalist, she has (with our help) freed herself of so much stuff that isn’t really needed. I like to think that the things we gave away will be put to good use by someone else.
My mom has all she needs and a bit more. She has a comfortable bed. She has her tv. She has her recliner loveseat. She has her lifelong treasures, including several from her parents: a mantle clock, a stained glass lamp with two pull chain sockets, and a red antique chair which provides a third seat for visitors. We displayed her small collection of Van Briggle pottery which my parents bought on their honeymoon in Colorado Springs. She has her St. Louis Cardinal bobble heads as well as her St. Louis Cardinal blanket which serves as her bedspread. Go Cards! Go Mom!
We worked to not overcrowd the apartment – including the areas that can’t be seen, such as the closets, cabinets and drawers. All is organized and stored in logical places. It’s cozy and comfortable. It’s small, but she has everything she really needs to live and to enjoy life.
I brought home some boxes of things to go through, and I’m storing her Christmas decorations for her at our house. But moving her is a reminder to myself, to pare down, to organize, to save only those things rich with sentiment, so as to enjoy the things we do have and to enjoy life. Because life isn’t stuff. Life is love. That’s what we need. That’s what matters.
When we were all done and bone aching tired, my sister suggested we say a prayer. So, still with our masks on, the five of us, including my mom, held hands, and we said our prayer. That moment was the most engaged my mom was all day. At the end of our prayer, Phil gave a short sentiment that he hoped my mom would be happy in her new home for as long as she could. And for just a moment, my mom smiled and her eyes sparkled. She felt the love. I felt it was a sign from above that we had done the right thing, and this new home of hers was meant to be.