The end of an era

20160521_112337The past few months have been a whirlwind.  Hell, the past year has been filled with big changes in my life, but this time it is in the lives of my parents.  They have moved to a retirement community, Trinity Oaks, that is close to family in Salisbury NC.  That may sound simple enough, yet it has taken an army of people to help with this transition.  Overall, this experience has reminded me of how loving my family is and how friends (new and old) will show up just when needed.

My dad has Parkinson’s disease as a result of his tours in Vietnam during the 1960’s.  He is a proud Veteran of this amazing country and served for 20 years active service for the Army Corp of Engineers.  He then went on to serve in the private sector for another 15+ years.  My mom and dad have enjoyed over 20 years of active retirement.  His expression of Parkinson’s robs him of energy to do the things he loves.  Mom still has enough energy for the two of them, yet it was time to downsize and have close by  support.  This year they both turn 80.  It is beyond time to give up caring for a large home and lawn alone.  They finally listened, and took the plunge!

My brothers and I divided up the tasks in order to make this move as simple as possible for my parents.  Letting go of a home filled with items you collected at the height of your independent life proved to be hard on every level for them.  My brother and sister-in-law (Brian and Pearl) helped at the home front with holding their hand through weeding out what items to bring and what ones to leave behind.  I learned that patience and a firm reminder of square feet are necessary for a downsize to be successful.  Their new home would be approximately 1/3 of the size of their home with no additional storage.

It is amazing what can be stored in an attic!  My family moved to their home in Woodbridge 34 years ago.  I was 10 years old.  In those 34 years, all of my siblings and myself moved out, married, had children and created our own lives.  Returning to this home to help my folks leave it for a better life seemed somehow surreal.  It is our turn, their children, to help them move on and receive help.

Countless hours were spent in the home with my folks.  Brian and Pearl guided the folks through as much as possible in order to take only what they loved.  It turns out, they loved damn near everything they owned.  That is wonderful, yet now it was time to get picky.  We all agreed that we wanted to gift our parents with the level of support they have given us over the years.  The folks left their home a week before the movers showed up and stayed with my aunt and uncle.  This allowed them to leave their home with it still feeling like theirs.

Movers show up to pack and move everything to the new cottage in NC.  This was where I came in.  I had every piece of furniture planned precisely where it would be placed.  My spreadsheets and plans were preapproved by all involved.  I arrive a day early to the cottage to be sure it is ready.  Of course, it was!  My part of the gift was to set up their home for them without them being there.  I wanted them to come “home” with everything set up before hand.  Reluctantly, they agreed.  Mom was only allowed to come long enough to sign off the trucks arrival, look at the empty house and return to my aunt and uncle’s home.  I could feel her anxiety.  It made sense to me, I would be too if I were in her shoes.  They both trusted me to do my best, the pressure to perform was on!

The Salisbury moving company was fantastic and highly recommended!  They appreciated my plans and attention to detail.  When an unapproved piece of furniture or box showed up, I remember just staring at the movers.  Jokingly, I said, “Put that back on the truck.”  Now it was my turn to be anxious, where in the world would I put the”extras”.  My help showed up just in time.  Chaos to Calm proved to be my perfect companion and coworker for the next two days.

Home life I am known for moving into a new place and having it set up within 4 days. This time,  I only had from 6 AM Friday until 6 PM Saturday to get this done.  I had 14 hours of scheduled help, a house full of boxes, and a goal to set up home for my parents before Saturday 6 PM dinner.  My cousin and his lovely wife showed up for about 4 hours on Friday night to help out.  This is the work that makes my soul feel good even as my body wants to drop from exhaustion.

Dad's surprise!The look on my parent’s face as they walked into their new home was worth it all!  My helping crew and I succeeded on our mission.  Every box was empty, items were put away, and the boxes were gone.  Every picture was hung.  Every clock was marked as to where the maintenance man of the community would hang them later on that week.  All clothes were hung up and put away.  Every photo album had a home and was in chronological order.  Every figurine was lovingly place, and most were on display. Their beds were made and ready to be slept in. They did not have to do anything except take a seat with a glass of wine to celebrate.  That is exactly what we did!

The next few weeks were taken up with Mom and Dad calling to find out where I put everything.  Fortunately, I remembered! They have been there a month now and are settling in with new friends, a new routine, time with my aunt and uncle, and the enjoying the helpful support from living at Trinity Oaks.

Family love!Brian and Pearl are now working on getting the home in Woodbridge ready to sell before they move out of town on their own adventure.  We will be handing the baton over to Robb, the oldest brother, to get the home actually sold.

Just this past weekend we celebrated in the new Salisbury cottage home with extended family.  The space may very well be smaller, yet it flowed perfectly for over 20 people to reunite.  Cousins we had not seen in 20 years showed up with their kids.  It was wonderful and fun at the same time.

Earlier this month, I visited my childhood home in Wooodbridge for most likely, the last time to pick a few pieces of my past.  A bed and a crib along with Mom’s wedding dress are now at my home in Danville.  I wondered if it would be sad.  Much to my surprise it was not.  All the items and people that made this house home, no longer lived there.  It was just a house, a shell.  Now it is now ready for the next family to fill with memories.  It reminded me of the feeling I had when I moved in December of 2014.  I took home with me in the heart of my beloved favorite items, just like my parents did.

goodbye NOVAThe era of my family living in NOVA is over.  It is sweet, bitter and wonderful at the same time.


Kristin Springfield
Home Kreator Extraordinaire