Then and Now: Part I

Ten years ago, it was very different.

It’s the year 2001. A physician recommends an older woman, just past her 85th birthday, can no longer live alone. Her family is immediately thrust into panic mode. Adult children scattered across the country begin calculating the number of vacation/PTO days required to sort through the family homestead. The oldest, Jim, backs off completely – saying he just can’t get away. The remaining siblings feel overwhelmed and resentful. In the end, the driveway is filled with enormous black trash bags, containing 40 or 50 years of stuff no one had the time to review and re-distribute. The local trash hauler comes and scoops it all up, but at least it’s gone. No time to go through it thoroughly, they say! Within a few hurried days, the movers pull up in a moving van and load what’s left onto the truck.

Leaving the bewildered woman and her four exhausted adult children on the front lawn, the movers proceed to the senior living community. Once there, the movers quickly unload the boxes into the new senior living apartment before traveling to their next job. They take a look around, and a significant problem is evident from the outset: two wing chairs simply won’t fit in the living room area. Only one chair fits due to the way the bedroom door is situated. They ask one of the moving guys to take the extra chair down to the building’s dumpster. It’s old anyway, they all say. Frustration sets in, however, and some harsh words are exchanged between the sisters and brothers: “Why didn’t you measure the doorways?”

They all begin to unpack. They sigh, and begin moving swiftly to make the apartment feel comfortable. Everything gets placed here or there, but it looks unsettled – hardly “home.” The kids have planes to catch, and they each think, “I’ve already spent too much time here!” They manage weak smiles. It’s been a tough couple of days for everyone. More tension arises only a few minutes later – when their Mom realizes she can’t locate her beloved afghan – you know, the one she knitted while expecting Jim. They soon realize it’s gone for good, because someone sheepishly admits tossing it into a black trash bag. Who knew? It looked so old and worn. “We’ll get you a new one for Christmas,” they say.

Part II next week.

7 thoughts

  1. What do you mean next week? I want to see how the story ends now!

    I remember when me (then 8 mos. pregnant with my first child) and my mother went through my grand parent’s house, she died three years earlier and my grandfather was going into a nursing home (that’s all we knew about at that time – we had never even thought of an assisted living community, if there were any back then), and we were so overwhelmed.

    We had no idea what to do with all the “stuff” that had accumulated over the 40 years of their living in that small 2/1 home but the attic was full as was the basement with my grandfather’s tools – he was a plumber and my grandmother was a seamstress.

    We lived in Georgia and my grand parents were in Tennessee, only a 4 hour drive but nonetheless, we lived far enough away and I was ready to pop that we hurriedly began to dispose of things.

    We sold my grandmother’s dining room furniture to a neighbor’s daughter for about $400 and we thought that was too little money at the time, in today’s market that would be well above what it could command. The rest of the things we let neighbor’s take, I took some furniture because my husband and I were going into our first home and needed the furniture, we threw things away and then we called (I don’t remember who at that time) someone to come in an take the rest away for whatever money my mother got.

    To this day, I truly regret the haste with which we took because I long for that dining room set. It was in perfect condition as was all of my grand parent’s furniture for she was a tidy, tidy woman, everything had its place but she was from the “Waste not. Want not.” generation so there were way too many things like pie tins, washed out Ziplock bags. etc.

    I know how our story ended but can’t wait to see what’s next with yours!

  2. Hi! Thanks for your kinds words. Just want to let you know that I write all the posts for the NASMM blog. My bio, along with that of my colleague, Jennifer Pickett, can be found under the “Who We Are” tab page at the top of this blog.

    Thanks for reading. We enjoy hearing your comments!

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