Dad’s Big Move

I told you about our adventures with my father-in-law recently and his impending move.  Well yesterday was the big day.

We had it planned perfectly, we thought.  The movers would come at 11am when dad would go to the senior center with his friend Harry for the day and we could get it done without him getting in the way.

Dad can barely distinguish a hammer from a screw-driver but he always wants to ‘help’.  We knew the best way to get through this was with him elsewhere.

We were having coffee and gearing up for the day ahead when the movers arrived two hours early.  I have to mention here that Dave has worked his ass off for over a week helping dad sort and pack.  He needed those two hours but soldiered on.

It’s hard enough packing your own stuff but add a sometimes belligerent old man arguing over every single thing he’s hoarded, er, saved for 93 years and the importance of taking it along… well you get the picture.

It’s what we call the Great Depression mentality.  Although I understand that generation feels the need for security that comes in having full cabinets I doubt he’ll ever need sixteen toothbrushes!

Dave is a Saint.  He’s only lost it with dad a few times.  I’m not known for my patience and find I’m biting my tongue a lot.  I admire how well he kept it together even as he finished packing the remainder during those two hours with dad’s help yesterday morning.

Once we arrived at his new apartment and the furniture and boxes were delivered we began putting it all together before Harry delivered dad to his new abode.

Dad hasn’t overly exerted himself physically in this process but he is always exhausted.  I get that.  Moving is as much a mental stress as physical and at 93 I can only imagine. 

Our son Jeff, who lives in town, came to help.  I’m so glad he was there because after everything was unpacked, cleaned, arranged, and we were totally exhausted there was a problem getting dad’s cable TV set up.

Jeff told us to go home.  He would stay until it was done.  We gratefully took the opportunity.  I was more concerned about Dave than dad at that point.

I can’t remember when I’ve seen Dave more totally spent.  This was a very emotional move for us as well as dad.  We’ve lived dad’s mental decline daily.  It’s difficult to watch. 

As I’ve mentioned before, dad’s not easy to love.  There is nothing warm and fuzzy about the man.  More often than not he’s very detached, even if he’s sitting in the middle of a room full of family. Yet, there’s a vulnerability about him that touches me.

He’s in the process of familiarizing himself with his new surroundings now.  He’ll probably have several blue haired ladies fighting over him before long. It’s that subtle vulnerability I suspect.

We’re adjusting to the quiet above us.  It helps to know we’ve done the best we could for him for thirteen years.  In his own gruff way I know he appreciates it.

He has set a goal to live to 100.  Somehow that wouldn’t surprise me much.

Have you gone through this process with an elderly relative?  Please share your story with us.





  1. Sharon O

    Yes it is exhausting… hang in there it will calm down for a short season of time once he gets used to it.

    • Barbara

      I’m sure Sharon, it can’t stay this crazy forever. He will be perfectly fine and safe which makes it easier for everyone.

  2. Whew – no rest for the weary! Happy that Gordon is in his new home sans at least 13 or so toothbrushes. How is he adjusting so far?

    • Barbara

      He seems to be doing fine Lee. We’re going to be too busy to check up on him until Monday, but I’m sure he’ll be just fine.

  3. I think you have done a great job, handle things like this isn’t easy. I like the photo you have of him, he looks a bit mischievous on it.

    • Barbara

      Thanks Ella. We have tried to do right by him all along and I believe this is the best place for him to be.

  4. Kudos to you…it is SO hard. And you know I know…my grandmother is still in the nursing home and her move there was done because she fell and went into the hospital. So I didn’t have to move her with her knowing about it ahead of time. One thing I have noticed is that her dementia has gotten worse and I believe it’s actually because she’s relaxed because she’s been cared for and doesn’t have to worry about anything. Before, she was so very much on the defensive because she didn’t want to lose her freedom.

    • Barbara

      Karen I can’t tell you how nervous we were about the timing because he had been going downhill so quickly! Thank God it’s done and as he slides down the slippery slope there are measures in place. whew!

      I do love how your grandmother has been in your life lately. I believe it has given you much understanding and a little closure. Am I right?

  5. He’s set a goal to live to 100 – kudos to him. With both my parents gone I liked living vicariously through your post. Also sounds as if Dave is one great guy to work so hard getting your dad packed and ready. Glad he’s settling in nicely. I’m sure you’re right that he’ll have a couple of ladies stalking him in no time!

    • Barbara

      I’m sorry your parents aren’t with you Stephanie. I always feel an ache when someone who was close to their parents lose them too soon. It’s one of those things that makes me ask regularly… why is he still here.
      Not that we don’t love him, no matter how difficult he tries to make it. It’s just that he seems to have set this goal with no thought to quality of life. Lucky for him we found a quality place.
      Thanks for contributing here!

  6. Oh my, I can see that is an experience and a half. My hat comes off to you, your husband and your son for getting through it. Change is always difficuult, especially when your dealing with someone who fights it so hard. From what you say his life in the home won’t be without incident.

    • Barbara

      Yes Peter he is a stubborn old coot but lord is he resilient! He may outlive me at this rate.

  7. What a move and a relief on some level. I wish him well in his new quarters and I hope he finds many new blue haired lady friends. Meanwhile, a week ago I subscribed to your blog again and I still haven’t received any of your posts. Any idea what’s happening? Anyone else with similar issue? 🙂

  8. My parent’s are both in their 70’s and while not even close (I hope) to going to senior housing, I am clearly beginning to see the signs of aging creeping in. My father had a mild stroke 2 years ago and since then his short term memory has taken a hit. The strong man who once could go from sun up to sun down performing physical labor, has admitted that he tires very easily now. Both of my parent’s have encountered a string of medical issues in the past year. While none of been life threatening, each one has reminded them of their morality as well as their age. That and the amount of time spent in doctor’s offices has taken a toll on their psyche. What is that term about youth being wasted on the young? They may be onto something……anyway, I pray that “Dad” will settle in nicely to his new home and make some new friends with the blue haired ladies. 🙂 It’s clear you and Dave were always there for him and I believe this move will do wonders for the health and well being of all of you. 🙂

    • Barbara

      Thanks for this beautiful contribution here Adrienne. I hope your parents carry on for decades. I think it helps having each other. Keeps the mind more active.

      I’ve been concerned about my own memory lately. I think I’m getting paranoid because of what dad’s gone through this year.
      Thanks again for your comment.

  9. Moving is never easy, and after going through with my great-grandmother and two grandmothers I know just how emotionally taxing it can be to sort through someone else’s life. But you are right — I bet in no time your stepfather will be the center of attention with all the ladies. He’s going to love that!

    • Barbara

      Doreen, going through his stuff is mind boggling!

  10. Pingback: Adventures with Dad… | Zero to 60 and Beyond

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