On Wednesday, I got up early to write because I knew I was only going to have a partial day at my desk. My niece, Amy, had contacted me and asked if I’d be able to help move some of her mother’s things from the home her parents built in the mid-1970s to an apartment in an independent living center. Sharleen, my sister-in-law, had been living there alone since my brother passed away three years ago.
Naturally, I said, “Yes.”
I remember all too well when my sister and I moved our mother out of the home my husband had built for Mom to the very same independent living center. The move was fraught with emotion. You try to stay positive for your loved one but inside you’re dying a bit because change is hard and this change means your loved one is not the same person you want them to always be.
In my sister-in-law’s case, her health has declined since my brother died. Actually, even before that, the stress of caring for my brother at the end of his life took a heavy toll. Shar loved my brother almost as long as I’ve been alive. (I was five when they got married.) After he passed away, she tried to carry on with her business (Buchanan Hollow Nut Company), her art (watercolors) and her life, but her health just hasn’t been up to it. Depression is so not in her nature, but some days were too hard to get out of bed.
Christmas was a turning point. Shar made the decision. She needed people and routine in a safe, warm environment–not alone in a huge house twenty-five miles from town.
We all have good memories of this place. Shar’s room is directly above where my mother stayed. It’s only been a few days, and Shar told me yesterday she’s not sure she’s ready for this, but the people are friendly and so far she’s won several robust games of Scrabble. Fingers crossed the transition goes smoothly.
I’m sleeping better knowing she’s safe, but I’ll feel even better when I know she’s happy, too.
Have you had to deal with this sort of thing with a loved one? I’d be happy to pass along any tips for a smooth transition to Amy and Shar. Below is one of Shar’s watercolor paintings hanging in my house.