Then and Now Part V

(Please read Parts One, Two, Three, and Four before reading this last installment.)

Well, we know what happens. Bill’s not a quitter, but it takes less than two hours on Florida soil to seek outside help. His Mom’s confused inertia nearly knocks him off his feet. Layers of guilt, sadness, and impatience hang on him like a heavy coat throughout that entire first day. He loves his Mom dearly, and he beats himself up for not visiting more and not being more clued into what is happening with her. “But heck,” he thinks, “I’ve been trying to find a job and then there’s so much going on with the kids.” His thoughts trail off . . . Twice, he sneaks into the bathroom, locks the door, sits on the edge of the sea-foam tub, and just cries. He hardly can believe it himself. Twice? He knows he needs to pull himself together.

When Bill calls Louise later that evening, she can hear the frustration in his voice. She doesn’t want to say “I told you so,” but she can think it, can’t she? Older brother, Jim, is all about closing this deal down . . . and fast. He quickly texts Bill: “NOW can we call the senior move manager Louise found?” Bill doesn’t own a smartphone, so he slowly keys in “y-e-s.”

Not the next day, but the day after, the senior move manager arrives for a consultation visit. Bill spends the intervening day tidying up to make a nice impression. His Mom, Patricia, doesn’t resist getting dressed the morning of the appointment. She chooses the purple floral top Louise sent last Christmas. She is more than a bit excited. Bill smiles and gives his Mom’s bony shoulder a tight squeeze as she sits in her favorite chair in front of the TV.

Once inside the home, the senior move manager sits down with Patricia at the kitchen table. They talk about where she is moving to, and how they will work together to make it a good move. Patricia listens closely, as she smooths out the wrinkles in the vinyl tablecloth. Bill stands by the kitchen sink, looking down on the entire scene with a sense of peace – for the first time in three days. The senior move manager brings out a thick, white plastic binder from her tote bag, and in it are photos of past senior move clients and many “before” and “after” snapshots of recent move projects. Patricia recognizes one of the snapshots as someone she knows from church. Bill thinks this familiarity will help his Mom accept the senior move manager, and gives a hearty “thumbs up” to no one in particular.

The senior move manager flips through the binder to show other items of interest as well: her Certificate of Liability Insurance, her membership certificate from the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), her Circle of Service Award from NASMM, and more.

After some preliminary conversation, the senior move manager asks for permission to look around. “Absolutely!” says Bill, as he follows closely at her heels. Throughout the tour, the senior move manager addresses many of her own questions and concerns directly to Patricia rather than to Bill. Bill notices this touching detail, and he almost breaks down again. Bill only interrupts when his Mom seems uncertain or anxious. The senior move manager seamlessly glides from one room to another, always respectful of Patricia’s possessions and sensitive to the fact she is a guest. She asks Patricia if she is getting tired yet. “Should we take a break for a few minutes?”

In the end, Patricia moves north to be with Louise and her family in Missouri. The move, six weeks later, is executed without a hitch or a glitch. Much to her surprise, Louise does not even fly down to FL to manage (or micro-manage, thinks Bill) the senior move manager’s progress. The senior move manager’s frequent updates via telephone and email put Louise (and Jim, Bill and Kate) completely at ease. They can’t believe the senior move manager sorted and distributed everything just as directed – a few special things to each of them around the country, some other usable items to the Salvation Army and AmVets, and still more to 1-800-Got-Junk. During one particular phone call, Louise, Bill and Kate try to calculate how many hours it would have taken to do all the work themselves. Jim urges them to stop. “Let’s just say WAY too many,” he says with obvious exasperation.

The best part is always the last part, isn’t it? The Florida senior move manager connects with a Missouri senior move manager to handle the unpacking and re-settling of Patricia in her new assisted living apartment. Pictures are hung, drawers and closets are filled, and the fridge is stocked with Patricia’s favorite snacks (Neapolitan ice cream) and beverages (Snapple Peach Iced Tea). Patricia’s bedroom looks just as she left it hundreds of miles away in FL.

The evening of move-in day, Louise emails photos to everyone of Mom sitting in her favorite chair. Patricia is smiling for Louise’s cell phone camera. “She looks great in that purple blouse,” Louise notes. “That’s definitely her color.”

When discussing the day’s events with Louise, Bill asks in utter amazement, “Who knew? Who the heck knew this thing called senior move management even existed?”

Louise laughs on the other end of the phone, “I knew, I knew.”

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