by Joan Blumenfeld, MS
Moving Days are never easy, even when you don’t lift a thing.
It was the end of an era. Our parents had to move to a nursing home. Mother’s Alzheimer’s had progressed to the point where she needed constant supervision and assistance with dressing, bathing, toileting and feeding. Mark, our stepfather, had become frail and needed care as well. So it was time to move.
The transition to the nursing home went smoothly enough, but I was left with the awful task of closing up their lovely apartment, distributing their belongings among interested family members and getting the place “broom clean” and ready to sell.
I had to disassemble 40 years of living: memories of holiday parties, family gatherings, large celebrations and small cozy visits. I had to dispose of years of collecting: paintings from galleries in Mexico City, Paris, and New York, oriental rugs from my childhood home, antique furniture, house plants that had been basking in sunny windows for years, shelves full of hard cover books that no one reads anymore. Hardest to deal with were the closets and drawers full of clothing and personal items no longer needed by our parents.
Sam (my life companion and a good friend to my parents), and I went to the city on a bright fall Sunday and started the process. It was clearly going to be a huge job to close the place that had been home to my parents for most of my adult life. I knew the physical and emotional toll of closing the apartment would be enormous. Ultimately we spent three full Sundays doing the work only a person with intimate knowledge of my parents could do well: searching the kitchen cupboards for items of value, saving important documents and personal letters, deciding where and to whom various belongings would go, invading their private lives.
But when faced with the more personal stuff, like Mark’s suits and Mother’s nightgowns, I broke down and cried and could go no further. My brother and Sam wanted me to take charge of the whole affair, but I knew better and refused to accept the job.
I promptly went to the phone book, found an estate liquidator/senior mover, interviewed her on the phone and hired her on the spot! She did a fabulous job of moving the items that needed moving, throwing out what was useless, donating what she could and selling the art and antiques at various well-known New York galleries. She left the apartment broom clean and ready to sell. Although her services did not come cheap, we more than recouped the cost in the amount we received from the galleries and, most importantly, it significantly reduced the emotional and physical stress on me!
Final pearl of wisdom: Closing up your parent’s home is tough! Get as much help as you can. Check out the National Association of Senior Move Managers.
Joan Blumenfeld is a Geriatric Care Manager based in Fairfield County, Connecticut. For information visit her web site joanblumenfeld.com. © 2010 Joan Blumenfeld