On Thursday I turned in the keys to my mother’s apartment. Just a simple thing – go meet the landlord and turn in the keys.
I had arranged to meet the landlord at 12:30, but some things ended early at work and I got to the apartment building sooner than planned. I decided to take one last look around.
The apartment was bare now – the only thing that remained was the custom curtains that my mom had installed. I walked out on the balcony and thought about the many times my mom and I sat out there. She basically went out there to smoke her cigarettes (arghh) – but we would sit and listen to sounds of the trains going by – the tracks were a few blocks away and it was amazing how after only a short while you often missed the sounds of the train unless the conductor sounded the horn. Her balcony was on the east side of the building, so you got the morning son, but in the afternoon it was very pleasant. We would have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and talk about how great it was that she was now in Colorado and had found such a great place to live.
I walked back in and went from the living room to the family room – she spent a lot of her time in there in the evenings watching tv. She also had her desk in there and that is where she did all of her paperwork until her macular degeneration got so bad that I had to do it for her.
I walked into her bedroom – it looked so much smaller without the furniture and her walk in closet looked so much bigger without all of her clothes. She had two bathrooms and a laundry room as well – she loved that. She did not like all of the "retirement" places we visited that had one laundry facility on every floor. She wanted to do her wash in her own apartment and she had that there.
I systematically went into every room and thought about things that had occurred in each of them. My mother was so happy there – she had found an ideal place for herself and she felt very safe and comfortable there.
I was so happy she had the time there – this was my mom’s apartment. It’s hard to believe that someone else is moving into it this weekend.
It sounds silly but I thanked the space for being so good to and for my mom. She couldn’t have found a better place. It was ideal for her. I started to leave and just couldn’t. I had to walk through one more time. I did that and then walked out and closed the door. I would never go back into that apartment again.
Since I had gotten there early and left early, I left the keys with the landlord’s grandmother who also lives on that floor and who became a very dear friend to my mother. I walked out of the building and went to visit mom.
I walked in her room and after making some small talk I told her that I turned in the keys. She started to cry and so did I. She said she has gone through many phases in her life, and this was the end of another chapter. I held her hand and told her that I understood – I told her it was also hard for me and that I was just as sad to know that that apartment was now a thing of the past. She continued to cry and then she looked at me and said that it was the right thing to do and that she was glad that that weight was now lifted off of my shoulders.
Then, all of sudden, she said – "Enough of this nonsense, I want to eat" -(she was in the middle of lunch when I got ther). And almost as if it meant nothing, the subject was over and the joy of eating returned.
For whatever reason, she is keeping an amazingly positive attitude and she does not dwell on her situation. She remains mostly upbeat and positive and I know that is having a significant effect on her health. Whether she is choosing not to admit things, or whether she just feels that she is going to make the best of her situation – I am very impressed by her strength and appreciate the fight she has in her.
So, another chapter is closed. Many have closed since June when this incredible journey began for me, my mother and Nick. We are all on a different path now, one that is more defined and thankfully one that has some semblance of normalcy. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that – I appreciate the little things – the sound of my mother’s voice – sitting in the kitchen and knowing that Nick is sitting on the couch – not having to call or visit a hospital every day – going to work every day – all these simple little things that I wondered if I would ever experience again.
I am not kidding myself – I know there will be other hardships in life. But when all of this was going on, a friend of mine told me that after living through this, all other hardships will come and go, but nothing will ever compare. I really think that is true.
On a side note, I got a call yesterday that one of my employee’s mother died in her sleep. She and I were just talking recently about our mother’s health issues. She had just gone to see her mother recently and she told me that she wondered if this would be the last time she would see her mother alive. I tried to call her last night when I heard. Her voicemail kicked in immediately, so I think she was on the phone. I left her a message to express my sympathy. I wished her peace and strength but also said that I could not say that I knew how she was feeling – only that I wished her the strength to live through what was to come.
And then, I took a deep breath. I realized I did not know what she is feeling – and I got a little scared. Treasure your mother while you have her, Jan. You just never know.