Many of you know that my family has been helping my mom move from her home of 50 years to a cute 2 bedroom apartment at an independent retirement community. We’ve been making plans and arrangements for a couple of months but the actual move came much faster than we originally anticipated. So the past 6 weeks have been an emotional and physical challenge as we have made decisions about what goes and what stays, how to pack and get her moved as smoothly as possible. Moving from 4000 sq ft to 270 sq ft is no easy challenge! But it’s time.
And my mom has been a champ. She has faced this with courage, some tears, resilience, and skeptical trust. As overwhelming as the process has been to conceive, we have helped her take it one manageable step at a time. Along the way, as I have spent time with her and helped figure out how to make things fit and when we needed to look to getting something new (because the 12 foot sofa was not going to be the most efficient use of space in her new living room area!) I’ve watched mom discover new things. How awesome it is to go online and be able to find and purchase just about anything you need and have it shipped to your door. She’s learned how to use the self checkout scanner at the home goods store! She’s creatively repurposed multiple things in her home so she can take even more of her stuff!
I’ve also learned about old things as she shares stories with me about family heirlooms and antiques or pictures. I have done the hard work of going through some of my father’s things in drawers that my mom hadn’t touched since he passed away 44 years ago. We have discovered treasures in the attic and nooks and crannies of the house that no one remembered was there. We have reassessed what has value to us as dollar value of the outside world does not often equal the value an item has on our hearts. Of course we have chosen which of the important Tarheel artifacts were making the move!
My three brothers and I have both worried about how to support mom through this difficult transition while also doing the important grief work ourselves of saying goodbye to our childhood home. Many of us have moved around multiple times in our lives (as a United Methodist Pastor, my childhood home was the most stable location I ever lived!) so this has been like an anchor in our lives housing memories and family gatherings over our lifetime. It is no small task to dismantle the place that holds a wonderful part of our life experiences. But it’s time.
I know many of you could have written this blog yourselves. This is a milestone that many of us go through. In spite of the sadness of letting go of a particular house in a particular place filled with particular things, we have our memories and the love that was shared in our hearts and minds. And sometimes that special place becomes a burden instead of a haven. So we are in the process of choosing symbols that will best remind us of all of these memories we hold dear. Anyway, we know it’s time.
Yet in the midst of this I have had such peace. I’ve had peace for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is past time for my mom to stop worrying about the upkeep of a house bigger than she needs sitting on property bigger than she needs to maintain. It’s time for her to operate in a smaller space that’s safer and easier for her to navigate. It’s time to minimize responsiblity and maximize her life’s enjoyment. It’s time for her to be in a place that will take care of any needs she may have in her apartment so she can focus on living. It’s time for her to be less isolated and surrounded by friends and folks she can share life with on a daily basis as she wants to. She has earned this rite of passage as she has spent a lifetime of service and hospitality to her friends and community and of course providing for her family.
I also have peace about it because I understand our life cycle that God has created us to experience. And we all have accepted that this chapter in our family’s life cycle has arrived. We will still gather at holidays and create new memories because family figures out how to do that. I have peace about it because God walks with us through these life transitions and I have sensed that throughout these past 6 weeks. I have peace because I have watched my family come together and pitch in to help make this happen. We do this together. I have peace because many of you have offered words of encouragement or prayers that have meant so much. And of course there is God’s promise from the Prophet Jeremiah that I hold dear to my heart.
I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. – Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)
And then there’s the familiar verses from Ecclesiastes in the Wisdom Literature:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;…
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
—selected verses from Ecclesiastes 3 (CEB)
I share this with you partly to help process my emotions of grieving this good but difficult transition. I share this with you to encourage others who find themselves facing the same hard family work. I share this in appreciation of my husband, Boone UMC and my co-workers who have given me grace to be away to support and assist my mom the past 2 weeks by covering some of my responsibilities. I share this to honor and celebrate my mom, who has navigated this life change with grace and a sense of humor that I admire and love in her. I share this out of gratitude to God for God’s abiding and comforting presence in these special days. And now, there is a computer to dismantle and move and some clothes to be donated and some last minute packing to complete as the movers come on Saturday! And I’m good with that, because it’s time!
Grace and Peace,