Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No Place Like Home

There are three things in life I know for sure-- Death, taxes and I can always go home to my Mother's house-- No matter what, no questions asked-- Mom will welcome her children with open arms and we will always have a place to stay for as long as we want or need to. (That's Mom with her oldest grand daughter on the left.)

She started teaching us-- her five children, this important lesson at a very early age. Perhaps it was because, at times, a place to call home wasn't always as secure as she would have liked it to be as a child. Her mother died when she was young and being bounced around a bit too much made making a home for her own family supremely important.

Don't get me wrong, we were absolutely taught to grow up to be self-supporting, independent adults with our own homes but Mom made sure that if life ever threw us a curve ball and we needed a little tender loving care, her light was always on-- literally.

Home is where Mom is and the door is always open. Period.

My siblings and I are remarkably lucky and blessed to have been raised with this knowledge tucked away in our hearts. Some of us have taken Mom up on the offer in our adult lives too, staying a few days or a few years as the case may be.

Her home for the past nearly 20 years has been with her beloved Dave, our step-father, who has the very same attitude and open door policy with his five children. Sometimes their house is a little crowded but none of their children have ever been turned away and there is always enough love and support to go around.

I've told you about their house HERE and the meaningful 40+ year history it has in our family--


The outside is neat and tidy with the pink dogwood tree in glorious bloom every Spring for as long as I can remember.

But the inside-- Let's just say the inside had a protective layer of dust holding it together and my folks had absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. They knew where everything was and eventually all the clutter, nic-nacks and stuff got moved and dusted, just not necessarily on a regular basis.

As signs of the aging process took hold of our folks a few years back, we arranged for a weekly housekeeper to help with the cleaning and surprisingly, Mom didn't argue about it one bit.

This past winter was the first year in dear Dave's life that someone else shoveled his driveway and sidewalks. And this summer is the first year his lawn mover was retired to a landscaping service to handle the weekly chore. He, on the other hand, is not happy about it but, at age 86, we think the guy deserves a break and his doctors do as well to insure he doesn't break anything if you catch my drift.

It's been a rough couple of months for them. In April both my folks were in the hospital-- First Mom, then Dave, and that's when things really took an unexpected turn. Mom came home from the hospital to their big rambling house. Dave went to a rehabilitation facility.

And Dave LOVED it there! In rehab! Swear to gawd!

The rehab center is nestled on a beautiful lake with many of the prescribed activities to strengthen his legs and arms taking place outside in the fresh air. It was like a Senior Citizens Camp with fishing and woodworking and gardening! After a week I actually think Dave was sorry to say good-bye because there were so many fun things for him to do and so much social interaction that, despite his health issues and the need for a cane, he had a spring in his step again.

For at last four years I've been discussing the monumental problem of no downstairs bathroom in their 100+ year old house. The bathroom is 19 very steep stairs away and would be impossible if anything caused them to be immobile, even briefly. None of my siblings, all of whom live within six blocks, have a downstairs shower or tub either. Ahh the joys of owning century old homes and the underlining problems they cause.

Before "downsizing" was part of our vocabulary, Mom and Dave already downsized to this house and had no intention of ever moving again. Then the stairs became a concern but, thanks to mastering denial over the years, our folks turned a blind eye to the potential problem.

The necessity for rehab and physical therapy brought the problem front and center with nowhere to hide.

Thanks to the wildly positive experience Dave had at rehab the often difficult "assisted living" conversation was actually started by none other than Dave himself-- And the even bigger shock was that Mom jumped on it! There was no drama, tears, hard feelings, begging, pleading-- Nothing.

Our folks were ready to move N.O.W.

Oh yes, we are a very happy group of children thanking our lucky stars that this often difficult parental transition is so welcomed by our folks. They'll be moving in late September to a beautiful one story, two bathroom home in an assisted living community that has a continuum of care (translation-- they can't get kicked out if their health turns south) and that will be the very last time they'll ever need to move.

With activities galore, local transportation, extensive health and wellness facilities and skilled nursing all on the rolling hills of its campus, it's really paradise for them. Throw in the fact that several of their friends live there already and it's a whopping half mile from their current home, and well, life is good for one and all.

When my folks and I first toured the facilities in April the same two questions were repeatedly asked and of great concern to them-- 1) "Does the house have extra bedrooms because we have a lot of kids." and 2) "Can bring our dog?".


The answer to both questions was a resounding YES!

So now, when I make my regular trips back home to see family, "home" will be at a new address-- One that still offers all the comfort only a mother can offer. But more importantly, it's a home that ensures comfort and security for our folks as they transition to a place where they will be safe and well cared for-- but still with enough independence to keep them-- and their dog, happy.

Of course I'm a little worried that I'm nearly old enough to be a resident in this Senior's community-- I'll be sure to carry my driver's license with me to prove I'm not quite old enough to move in and just a guest. It kind of gives a whole new meaning to "getting carded". Who knew I'd ever be happy to be "only" 53.

Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins

46 comments:

Mari said...

Your Mom looks wonderful! They both sound so special and moving on their own, really shows what great people they are. I wish them well in the move.

Brian Miller said...

i am glad that the transition was smooth and that they wanted to go...that is great and i hope the place is well on them...sounds like it will be...moms got a great smile eh?

Anne H said...

Precious!
Thee really is no place like home!

Shug said...

How Blessed you all are to have parents that are so willing....Our turn of dealing with this is coming very soon and I don't think we are going to be so lucky...
Your mom looks great! I am so proud for all of you...Love the home, but I know you have to do what you have to do..
Blessings...
shug

Shug said...

How Blessed you all are to have parents that are so willing....Our turn of dealing with this is coming very soon and I don't think we are going to be so lucky...
Your mom looks great! I am so proud for all of you...Love the home, but I know you have to do what you have to do..
Blessings...
shug

Jeanie said...

Beautiful smiles on both your mom and your granddaughter. The attitude with which your mom and Dave are going to their new home will go a long way toward making them happy there.

Barbara Shallue said...

My parents have open arms, too. In fact, my 59-year-old sister just spent 3 months there as she recovered from hip surgery! How wonderful that yours are so eager to move and what a great place that has room for the 'kids'!

DJan said...

It was the same for me when my mom was alive; no matter where she was living, it was "home" even if I had only been there when she had moved there. Once she was gone, it's been difficult to adjust to not having that safe haven. Her sister, my aunt, however, moved from their home to a place similar to your mom's new assisted living place, and for the past two decades, she and my uncle have been very happy there. It's a wonderful story that they are thrilled to be going!

Ina in Alaska said...

Great post. I am about to turn 59 & can say stairs can really become an issue! Glad your mom & Dave will transition into a more manageable space with their dog & be free of the cares of their old home which can now create new memories for new people!

Shrinky said...

Oh jj, the pure love simply spills from this post - what a close-knit, loving family you are, it looks like your momma raised her brood well, it's woven through every line written here. I love the sound of this retirement community (wouldn't mind booking MYSELF a place in there)! It sounds a perfect place for your folks to enjoy life to the full.

ladyfi said...

Your parents sound like mine! So wonderful.

That assisted home living sounds great - if only they would take me, a young 51-yr-old! Although my two small kids might be a problem... ;-)

Cathy Clementz said...

Please your parents and their families hearts. And the little dog too! I'm glad they are able to keep the family pet with them. Wonderful story.

Formerly known as Frau said...

Good for them making that decision an easy one on you all! I love their open door policy and welcoming family ....really genuine people. I'm sure they will do well.

Jessica Vescera said...

Great story. I love happy endings!

Cindy L said...

Joanna,
I loved seeing the photos of your family home and your mother -- lovely!

And I have to admit, I am very envious to learn that your folks actually CHOSE to go into assisted living on their own. This will make your life so much easier down the road... As you know, my mother has some health issues and early stage dementia, and she is totally refusing to go into assisted living. She prefers to stay alone in her condo, and she cannot drive, so I have to micro-manage her life and health care.

I have taken my mother to tour some lovely assisted living places, but in her mind, she is "not ready to go live with old people," even though she is in worse shape than many of the residents in assisted living! It's very frustrating.

Count your lucky stars. I think your parents made a wise decision, and I think that assisted living communities will be a growth industry in the future!

Cinner said...

Joanna, this was beautiful to read. you can feel the love in this post. I am so glad they have decided to move so that there needs are met. There is no place like home for sure. My Mom is moving closer to her girls in September, she will be in the same city as my other sisters...only 3 hours away...so I am very excited. Your Mom and Dave sound very precious. hope you have a great weekend. hugs to you.

Eva Gallant said...

I'm so glad the transition is going to be fairly painless for them. That is not always the case.

missing moments said...

What a wonderful testament to your parents and how well they have raised their children.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

You are fortunate that your folks are willing to take this step. Will make things much easier and better for them. Still ahead for me with my mom. I don't think she's budging.

Betty said...

I´m so happy for you Joanna! How lucky that they have this possibility in the area that they already know and love. I think it´s so great of them to do this without being pushed into it.
I see a much harder path in the future for my parents....

Echoes said...

Love the blog. Spent my childhood growing up on the beaches of Long Island with 5 brothers and 1 sister. My Mom taught us much the same as your Mom. She now lives in TX but still there to help or house anyone in need. Guess its part of being a mother. Based on your age we grew up in the same era and were taught same values and principals to live by that is lacking in todays youths. Thank God for the good ole days!

Jillsy Girl said...

what a relief for all you children and your parents...all the power to 'em!!

Ms. Bake-it said...

Your parents sound wonderful! It also sounds like you were as lucky as me in regard to your step-father. My step-father's name is Dave but I call him Dad. I feel so blessed to have him in my life. They also have the same open door policy as your parents. They are not to the point where they need to move into an ALF yet, but I think (and hope) when they are they will do so with the same ease as your parents.

I hope you are having a great day!

~ Tracy

Ms Sparrow said...

What a blessing! One hears so many stories of elderly parents who fight going into a care facility. This sounds like a wonderful place that it makes your parents so happy!

Christine said...

thanks for sharing this Joanna, so happy your parents have found such a great place. This is a concern for us all with aging parents.

TechnoBabe said...

The time must be right for them to get situated in a better environment before they get even older, so good for them to have the sense to get ready and take care of themselves. And like you say, you will be staying with your mom when you go there for a visit, so wherever your mom is, that is home. You're so funny; you are still a youngster!

Mrs4444 said...

Joanna, this is a really wonderful post. I enjoyed being filled in on all the details, and I'm so happy for your parents (who sound like people who are young at heart :) Good luck with the transition--Cleaning out the old house should be...um....fun.

Lynne said...

What a great outcome. You are fortunate in it all going so smoothly and finding a good place.
Best wishes to you all!

Kay said...

I can see just from the photo, what a sweet and kind person your mom is. How wonderful that things have worked out so well. You are truly blessed with a loving family.

Sue said...

What a great post...I'm just helping my oldest daughter move into her first apartment, and will be going to visit my dad this summer, so I'm having many similar thoughts. Yours in an inspiring story.

gayle said...

Such a beautiful post......honestly brought tears to my eyes. You are very lucky to have your mom and Dave still with you and that they are more than willing to move! Sounds like a great place!

Beatnheart said...

What a beautiful story...loved it from start to finish. It’s amazing what positive thinking will do...You are so
lucky...I hope you know that...enjoy it all!

secret agent woman said...

You guys really are lucky - it sounds like everything worked out beautifully.

Unknown Mami said...

Oh that's great! I'm so happy it all worked out this way. Kudos to Dave for enjoying rehab and coming up with this new living arrangement.

lisleman said...

tough decisions - good to hear it's working out.
I wonder if it is easier if you are still a couple or if you are single? It probably depends on your attitude in the end.

Mike Smith said...

A fabulous story, JJ - you have a wonderful way with words. Best wishes to you and your loving family.

Sex, Drugs and Bacon Sandwiches said...

It really sounds like you have an amazing family. Wonderfully written.

RNSANE said...

What a beautiful post, Joanna. I only wish my mother could have done this. She lived alone in a duplex she had rented for 18 years. She had macular degeneration and was legally blind for the last several years. I tried and tried to get her to consider moving into assisted living but she was adamant that she would not. She had a lady come in once a week to clean and shop for her and she could get around pretty well in her apartment. I had meals on wheels come in at lunchtime and she'd microvave tv dinners for lunch. Three times her last year there, I went for a month ( the only good thing about losing my job ) but, on the fourth visit, I found her sitting in her recliner, just babbling numbers. She'd had a temporal lobe stroke. She didn't know me - and she hasn't since. She was hospitalized for a week, then my brother and I got her into assisted living in a skilled nursing facility near his home in the Atlanta area. It is so sad, though, as she really doesn't know us at all.

Pastor Sharon said...

I am glad this transition is going okay.

It was the hardest thing I ever had to do for my mother. And I miss her like crazy now that she is gone. Home was ALWAYS where ever she was.

SE'LAH... said...

a Mother's love is most precious. I strive daily to be better at motherhood. Great lesson your mom taught you all.

sending a big HUG your way. one love.

grannyann said...

Loved this post. I can almost see myself in an almost similar situation only your moms not yours. Thanks for the warning.

Hilary said...

Your family is very fortunate that it worked out this way. It seems like everything has fallen into place for your parents. They're lucky to have one another and to have such a loving supportive family.

Chris H said...

What a wonderful outcome for both of them, and their darn gorgeous dog!

Sarah said...

What amazing parents you have hon..what a lesson to each of us...I love this one!! I miss mine dearly I really do!
Hugs and love to you hon, Sarah

Kelly H-Y said...

Wow ... this post was filled with blessings ... so happy that their transition is welcomed by both - - that is so wonderful!

Sybil said...

What wonderful, supporting, parents.

Ain't love grand ?