It’s been a long, strange week for my family during which homes and roles were changed, and we all had an exercise in considering what tangible things are important in our lives.

On Monday, we moved my mom to a memory care unit in an assisted living home in North Platte, about 90 miles west of Kearney. She had lived in an independent apartment in a retirement complex near me for more than 14 years, after moving from the small town home in Wilcox she and Dad had built in 1974 as my twin sister Lisa and I headed off to college.

Before that, my parents had lived on our family farm for 30 years.

Dad died in 1996 – I was at the NFPW Conference in Charlotte, N.C. – and Mom was fine alone in her Wilcox home until 2001. She could have stayed longer, because my farmer brother, Glen, lived just 11 miles away at the farm and I was about 25 miles away in Kearney.

But Mom decided she no longer wanted the responsibilities of finding someone to mow her yard or scoop snow from her driveway. If the winters were long and snowy, she was confined to the house a lot because it was too dangerous to walk to the post office, store or church.

That wasn’t an easy move for her 2001, but she was committed to it and soon had a new “home” in Kearney.

This time, the decision was not hers. At age 96, she has needed some extra care and attention the past two to three years from home health care services and from me as her closest child. When Glen died three years ago this week, that also took a regular visitor out of the care equation, not to mention a big piece of her heart.

So Lisa, our other brother James and I decided that Mom’s fading memory made it the time for a change. The obvious answer was to find a nice place near Lisa, who would take over my role as day-to-day visitor.

She still has three boys at home, but at age 19, 19 and 18, they are in school, job training or preparing to go into the U.S. Marines.

Lisa manages all of the farm and Mom’s business, and is home during the day. One of our biggest concerns has been having Mom alone for days at times when I’m working long hours, such as this week’s Buffalo County Fair week, or gone for a week or more to the NFPW Conference in Alaska.

Lisa and I had talked to Mom about the move on July 5, but, as expected, she did not remember the conversation when we all gathered for the move and to clean out her Kearney apartment last Monday. It was sad and difficult for her to see Lisa pack a suitcase and then leave for a place she hadn’t seen.

I do believe that some of the explanations we gave about why the move was in her best interest and would take a big worry away for her children did make some sense to her.

During 2 ½ days of sorting and packing – things we each took, a bunch of the household items that two of her grandchildren can use, and some furniture, clothes and other personal items going to North Platte – we had to make a lot of toss, keep and decide-later decisions about many of Mom’s things.

She has settled in pretty well at North Platte, although she is in a two-person room for now. We have been first in line for a private room since December, but felt we couldn’t wait any longer to make the move in case she would have a medical emergency and there would be no place available in either Kearney or North Platte to fit her needs.

I went to visit with her on Saturday. Lisa and I took lunch that we ate in a private dining room, and then we visited for awhile until I needed to drive back to Kearney.

Seeing us leave, whether it’s to drive 90 miles home or just a few blocks away, is hard for Mom, as it has been for some time. However, the Linden Court staff tell Lisa that Mom is doing fine when we aren’t there.

We look forward to getting her a private room where we can recapture a setting that seems more like home to her.

It’s just one of those big changes in life that we all face, whether it involves a parent or our own lives. We’re thankful that we have options, but it still isn’t easy.

That’s true whether it involves changing homes, taking a new job or, as both my affiliate and NFPW are doing, charting a new course for an organization.

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