I got to visit my dear friend’s new place yesterday. Somehow it was satisfying and comforting to explore the place into which she moved after giving up so much from her other residence at this stage of her life. She is elderly, in her early 80’s. My friend didn’t want her children to go through what she had gone through with her own mother years before; having to quickly find a nursing home for her mom upon the sudden eroding of ability, mind, thinking, cognition and/or loss of faculties. So she chose to go on her own timing and by her own choice to a smaller place in a senior residence community (with assisted-care on site), where she can get ready help should it be necessary some day or any day.
She left most of what she had collected in her 40+ years of living in her own home behind. Most everything she had amassed as family matriarch, along with her husband who passed away a decade ago, her sons left for the less fortunate curbside at her old house. In a lot of ways, I mourned for her decision, knowing that she didn’t really want to move or change address after all this time. She enjoys her freedom, lamenting having to be accountable to staff at her new place for safety sake; and her house was her connection to her deceased husband and many memories of prior times which have passed for good. But she did this out of love and because she didn’t want to be a burden to her children. She gave up the bigger house, the pool, the secure garage, the possessions and her freedom to move into a place where she has her own space for now; she is part of a community of seniors in transition, each learning how to face whatever is to come.
Each of us must find our way through the minefield of life, often fraught with such discomfort and significant change that we are rendered stunned. In hopes that she has eased that stage for her sons, I give her great credit! It takes unconditional love and an unselfish heart to leave almost all you’ve treasured and gathered behind for the sake of the ease of others. It is hard to imagine rendering most everything material as inconsequential; but not when measuring the worth of such things against those most precious to your heart – your children and/or family- and their needs! It is not easy watching people change, but it is incredibly hard to watch them go. I am preparing myself for that time with her, with my own mom and with others in my life; as time itself erodes the illusion of safety nets we seem to have when we’re younger. We must learn to accept the changes, to face things with bravery, even to blaze the pathways into unknown places for the sake of love! Fortunate are those of us who also do it with faith.