My senior year in college was the last time that Bro and I lived less than 500 miles apart. Although we attended the same college that year and saw a good bit of each other, his career soon led him to Georgia, while I have remained a confirmed Virginian. We love each other dearly, but we have not spent enough time together as adults to be close friends. So, it has meant a lot to me that he has pulled up stakes the past two weekends to come help out with closing Mother's apartment and preparing to move her to a nursing home.
Three weeks ago it looked like she would be returning to her apartment - perhaps with more "assistance" [as they say in the elder health care racket] - but that is not to be. Both her mental and physical state have declined rapidly and we are now looking for suitable nursing homes in both states so that one of us can be close enough to keep a good watch on her in the coming months. We will soon have to choose where and when to move her. Which leads us to cleaning out, sorting thru, and packing up what she's collected and saved in 80+ years of life. And, Bro has pitched in and been here to help with it all.
Last weekend he arrived prepared to move her to an assisted living space, but when it became obvious that she needs more care than that, he was right there to help. He was totally supportive of making the decisions as quickly as we needed to and moving on to implement all the details. This weekend he brought his wife and teenage children who helped pack and tote, and worked hard getting GrandNell's apartment ready to show. Mitchell and the World's Best Nephew carried out 50 loads of trash and filled the storage unit with packed boxes, while the World's Best Niece helped me sort thru clothing and linens and packed most of those boxes. My sister-in-law sorted out what gets donated to Goodwill and what we should try to sell first.
They visited with Mother and shared old family stories while sitting out on a sunny post-Earl afternoon. Bro and I shared remembrances, looked in amazement at the things she had saved - like every letter either of us ever wrote to her. Bro's stack was two; mine much larger! We found photos that we had never seen before and brought home four cartons to be sorted on cold winter nights! We found my grandfather's fez and my great grandmother's wedding shoes. Mom's rolling pin and the metal measuring cup that was used for two generations' worth of Christmas cookies. Her baby dress and mine. All of the handmade gifts she received from two young children... and so much more.
We talked for hours about what to do and when and how. We shared our thoughts and feelings and we got to know each other all over again. I suspect that we will see more of each other in the coming months because wherever Mother moves, one of us will be traveling a bit more often to see her. But, in a strange way this health crisis has given us all the gift of time spent together sharing and a new adult friendship. Not a terrible outcome at all.
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