One of my greatest joys, and also one of my greatest sorrows, was liberating Mom from routine. Indeed, this experience might have been easier had she not held on so tight to the daily grind for so many decades. Most likely, this tedium is the ultimate backlash of aging-the longing for the ordinary and an often-fearful flight to the frenzy of new experiences. Things that had value at one time were stacked high in the basement and in every cupboard. Each called out to be set free-free to be re-purposed, free to be honored by someone else, free to be in the light, free to be enjoyed once again. The noise was deafening. A tough order of business, a project managed only by those who are bold and courageous. Fifty years of clutter and accumulation were banished from her kingdom within weeks.
I remember the day I walked into the facility. The residents were putting up the Christmas tree. The interior was warm and inviting; the staff friendly and in the holiday spirit. All the bells and whistles concurred that ‘this was Mom’s next place’. And so, it was.
In her new place, Mom learned to return to a minimalist lifestyle from her Depression era days: use what you have and enjoy what you have. Simplicity was restored. Mom had what she needed and a bit more to share on occasion. Yet, there it was: a prime-connection revisited to those who always had much more and much better-transporting her back to the high school mentality of ‘the pecking order’. Nonetheless, she learned that game but with a very different methodology. Her smile was genuine as was her concern for so many other Seniors transitioning into an independent living facility. Women had nice clothes, beyond the traditional sweat pants. Residents were well groomed, presentable due to the judgmental eyes of a select few. Indeed, some of the women went to a local clothing shop and modeled outfits for enjoyment but also to secure a discount. Mom needed a makeover in the clothing arena-to fit in. I began to frequent this same clothing store and both of us were delighted to find some treasures. Mom was thrilled with her new outfits and those ‘in the know’ noticed her attire. I coached her how to bring about conversation towards her wardrobe so that this simple aspect might gain her acceptance among her peers. Indeed, soon enough, Mom was the among the in-house fashion statements and truly, she enjoyed posing in front of her mirror in admiration!
Many of those clothes were left behind at her last place of residence for others to enjoy. Today, two remaining boxes were given to the consignment shop and a few remaining articles were given to a local nursing home. Full circle. The joy of giving these gifts to Mom has been revisited. For the last few months, these items were set aside in my basement, shouting to me and at me every time I opened the door. Each article of clothing was carefully reviewed, folded and boxed. Each item has been set free-just as my beloved Mom’s spirit has been set free and now lives an abundant life in the heavenlies.