Today I was reminded of something that happened almost exactly a year ago today. Last June, I sat at my parents’ kitchen table and looked at the brochure from Brookdale Retirement Community. My parents had made an appointment at Brookdale to tour their independent living community. My sister and I had no idea that they were going on this little field trip. We knew that the idea had been tossed about but as far as we knew, it was just a passing thought.
Now that passing thought was sitting on my parents’ kitchen table in bright glossy pages. Pictures of older couples participating in activities at Brookdale covered their table along with floor plans for various apartments. It made my stomach turn.
Although I was surprised that they had toured Brookdale, I was more surprised with my Dad’s reaction to the material. You see, Dad designed their house on Norman Drive. He always said that he designed the house so that he could move out . . . “feet first.” He made the doors wider than the standard door so that a wheelchair could fit through each door. Was this foreshadowing of my mom’s future in her wheelchair? Everything they needed was on the first floor and years earlier a chair-lift had been added so that my parents could continue to use the rooms upstairs. Now my parents were actually thinking about leaving their “forever” house. How could this be happening?
After seeing my dad’s face, I put my hand on his hand and told him that I would never make him leave his house. Did I know then that I was telling a lie to my dad?
Fastforward one month. I was sitting at that same kitchen table talking to my mom about the fact that dad had absolutely no memory of me spending the day with him just the day before. Fast forward 24 hours and I would be blocking the front door trying to keep my dad from leaving his house and “going home.”
A mere two weeks later, I am touring Brookdale with a friend.
I toured independent living and memory care but I had one particular request. I requested that they show me the biggest, nicest apartment that they had available. I may have told my dad that I would NEVER make him leave his house but I was only going to break my promise if I could move him to the best possible apartment at Brookdale. Only the best for my dad!
Fortunately, there was a two bedroom plus a study availabel for immediate move in! Now to go back and break my promise in person.
So, the moral of this story is Never Say Never. Remember that we do the things we do out of love not out of spite. We were not moving our parents because we wanted get them out of their house. We were moving them for safety reasons and we were in hopes that this new community would keep my mom from feeling trapped in her own home.
Nothing is perfect. Moves are hard. Change is hard. But Love is constant. Parents are special. Change is hard and nothing is perfect. But love wins every time.
If you have to move your parents and break a promise, remember the reason you are making the move. Ask yourself if you are moving your parents for selfish reasons or out of love. Chances are you are making your decision out of love. Trust your instincts. That quiet voice that is prodding you along is from above not down below. It is that voice from above that will keep you upright and moving forward in the coming months. Trust me on this one.
I write this tonight not only for my benefit but for the benefit of a new friend in a weekly support group I attend. My friend is in a tough spot but she will find her way through this journey and she will make the decision that is best for her and for her mom.
Another new friend gave us a quote today: God does not call the able; He enables the called.
I agree and I will never say “never” again. I hope.