Moving Day

April 29, 2011

I’m headed out of town this morning to help some people move.  Moving is always fun.

I’m helping my grandparents move.  Not quite like helping my bachelor friends move.  I won’t be handling any futons or neon signs.  And none of the furniture will be made of particle board.

It’s a big day.  I don’t think my grandmother wants to move all that much.  But it’s too late now.  Here’s why the day is so unbelievably huge.

Forty-Five Years

That’s how long my grandparents have lived at their house in the Ozarks.  Wow.  This is the house my Dad grew up in.  That’s how long my grandmother has played the piano and organ at church!  Talk about perseverance.  It’s been four years since I’ve moved, and that’s a long stretch compared to the rest of my twenties.  I can’t imagine sticking with something for four decades.  Talk about a life that’s hard to break away from.

The New House

The new apartment: no furniture yet but a few shades nicer than a nursing home.

The day is also big because we’re not just moving my grandparents up to the town where my family lives.  We’re moving them in with my parents.  Yup.  We built an addition on the house and everything (by “we,” I mean “contractors.”)  It’s pretty awesome.  But there are no delusions that this will be easy for anyone.  My grandmother does not want to leave home.  But being in your eighties isn’t easy.  And living with your elderly parents isn’t easy either.  But it will be good.

The interesting thing is that my mother has gotten nothing but cross-eyed looks from people when she says she’s moving her in-laws into her home.  No one does that.  It would certainly be easier to keep my grandparents at arm’s length in a nursing home four hours away, rather than build a new apartment onto the house and move them in.  I hope my parents are planning on using the new addition when they are elderly, because I can’t guarantee I want them moving in with me in twenty years.

Life Done Right

I haven’t inherited a prominent family name, but it’s a good one.  My grandparents are leaving behind four decades of goodwill from the community.  When they moved in, they bought the town grocery store and immediately jacked the price of meat up by 300% (from nine cents to twenty-seven cents a pound.)  People were outraged, until they took their new expensive meat home and found it no longer had stale cracker crumbs and water mixed into it like dog food.  My grandparents gave away tens of thousands of groceries to people who could only afford imitation bologna.  (That was a real product, and I have no idea how such an unholy sounding product existed.)  They lived life right.

Any of you been in this situation?  Where are you planning to be in your eighties?  What is the longest you’ve lived some place or stuck with a job?

29 responses to Moving Day

  1. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.

    life done right indeed. :-)

    remember to lift with your knees!

  2. Hi Matt,

    Twice you say that your grandmother does not want to leave her home. I understand. Be gentle with her. This is a traumatic experience for your grandparents and for your parents. I feel for them.

    In the last chapter of John’s Gospel, after Jesus rose from the dead, on the beach He said that when Peter was young he dressed himself and went where he wanted; But, when you get old, you stretch out your arms for somebody else to dress you, and they carry you places you don’t want to go. That’s because we’re getting ready to die. Then Jesus said, “Follow thou Me anyhow”.

    I’m only 73, but already my grown children sometimes treat me as though I were in my dotage. Loving concern sometimes feels like a pain in the ass. What’s wrong with this shirt? I bought it at Sears on the same day men first walked on the moon.!!!

    I spend a lot of time rushing to places I don’t want to go.

    Move? Why? Ginny and I have lived in this house for 17 years now and I still paw the wall where the light switches used to be in our old house. I’ll never get used to a newer place than this, no matter how nice it is.

    God bless you, Matt, for helping. God bless your parents for disrupting their home with contractors to make room. And God bless your grandparents, modern-day Peters.

    John cowart

  3. My mother is 87, my mother-in-law is 83, and both still live in their home where they have lived in continuously since 1955 and 1948, respectively. They are both still able to manage, and manage well, but there’s always physical problems. My mother-in-law, though, still gets on the riding mower to cut her grass and the neighbor’s grass. Moving either of them would be traumatic, and we’re letting this run for as long as they seem able to manage. But the day is coming when we will have to (gently) help them do something else. Your parents, by caring for your grandparents, are also blessing their children.
    Glynn recently posted..Welty and Maxwell- What There is to Say We Have Said

  4. As I type this, my father-in-law is here. He’s just about 80. I made it through 3 heart attacks, a pacemaker, a spinal fusion and 3 cancer surgeries. He was supposed to have a double knee replacement, but his heart is too weak. He has lived on the same block his entire life. His wife broke her hip a 6 weeks ago and he went into action. Their house is full of steps and stairs, and he brought her meals on the 2nd floor 1 item at a time. They don’t want to move. I am sure you grandparents feels the same.

    When I was in Brazil, I found that few elderly are in nursing homes. I stayed with a pastor’s family and both the mother-in-laws were in the apartment; one with Alzheimers. I think what your folks are doing is awesome!

    We share a cottage each summer with my wife’s folks, it goes well. If they needed us, we’d do what ever it takes to care for them. My wife took a month off from work to care for hr mother, and me last month.

    I haven’t done too much for too long. The longest I lived anywhere was the house I grew up in. That was from age 5 to 19. Because I work in software, companies rise and set like the sun. Therefore; I have had more lay-offs than I care to count. My longest job lasted about 4 years. It is the same for moving.

    I hope to be on the mission field when I am 80.

    Well, Matt, I am proud of you for taking care of those that need your help.
    David recently posted..5 1-2 Kids- Thats What You Are!

  5. I haven’t been in this situation. I don’t know how it would go with my mother being so stubborn. But I honestly wouldn’t let her move in with us.

    When I’m 80, I’m not sure where we’ll be. That’s 50 years away!

    Drink lots of water.

  6. We’re doing a very similar thing – my brother and SIL are moving into my elderly mother’s house to hang with her for a while. Eventually she plans to move to her own apt a few blocks away. There has been some serious decrapification (and remodeling) going on in that house as my parents have lived there since 1956 and the original wool carpet is still there. It’s in perfect shape – we weren’t allowed to walk on it. With moving all of the bro’s stuff in, we have created a rather large garage sale which will be at MY house. Oh, the horror. I’m hoping to look back and laugh. My biggest delight is that my brother wants to return to and live in his childhood home. That’s worth any hassle this whole thing has created. The biggest surprise is that Mom was all for this (bullheaded, routine, stubborn…) All will be well.
    Candy recently posted..Blessings- What if…

  7. Wow…Be thankful that your grandparents still have each other!!!! That’s so amazing…

    My Grandpa lost his wife (my grandma) about 2 years ago…he is 74 years old…he is lost…he doesn’t know who he is with out her…he left his home to move in with my mom….it’s really, really hard for her….but “she honoring her father”….

    I work as a dispatcher for a moving company….should have called me bro…

    God Bless!
    Arny recently posted..Weekend For Thought 4 – The Best Royal Wedding Ever

  8. Matt, my heart goes out to your grandparents in particular, though I know from personal experience that the transition will be challenging for all involved. I saw it when my mother, then in her 60’s, moved my grandmother into our house when she could no longer live by herself even with the help of aides on weekdays. Mom kept her real estate job for a while afterwards, but eventually had to give that up to be a full-time caregiver, which presented tremendous emotional challenges for her. My grandmother lived to be 97 – long past anyone’s expectations when she moved in with us – so Mom had nearly a decade of hands-on caregiving (and there were years before that when she and I, but mostly she, made a regular two-hour commute on weekends, holidays, etc. to stay with and assist my grandmother). Then, as we had pretty much expected, she passed away in our house – and while we were and are glad that she did not die in a hospital or nursing home, that was, of course, an additional challenge for Mom to meet. I do not in any way mean this to sound like a “downer” message, but that was our experience…and it is becoming more and more common. I know that someday I may have to face similar issues, and as a single childless woman I will not have the same resources that Mom did, although I don’t spend much time worrying about that right now. I also wonder, as a single, childless woman, how my own situation will play out if I live to be in my 80’s or beyond. It sounds like you have a pretty good handle on what your family will face, and I wish you and them all the best in this new phase of life.

  9. Matt, I love the honor you show your parents and grandparents.

    When I’m 80 (I’m 36 now), I hope I’m with Jesus.

    • by hope, I don’t mean I hope I get into heaven. I mean that I hope that Jesus has already come back.

  10. Five years ago we walked my 84-year-old dad through what was expected to be terminal cancer. He lived with us for that year. It was without a doubt the hardest year of my life. One of the essential parts of being a caregiver is to have a back-up plan, so you can get away and take care of yourself a bit. I’m so grateful to my husband and friends to gave me an occasional break.

    My dad is now 89 and doing well, although he still refuses to believe in the God who healed him. He has his own “independent living” apartment at a very nice senior living place ten minutes away. We’re all much happier that way. He can set the thermostat at 80, he has made new friends, and he has maintenance people to complain to instead of my husband.

    Right now our son-in-law assures me that we will live with them when the time comes. We’ll see. Unfortunately, being in full-time ministry means we aren’t able to save much for eventual long-term care.
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  11. When I’m my 80s I plan to be sitting in a rocking chair with my wife by my side as we sip sweet tea and tell our grandkids stories of how life used to be when we were young. Although that is roughly 60 years away, so we may not even have rocking chairs at that point, maybe some kind of hover chair or something like that.
    Ben Wiggins recently posted..Random Musings

  12. My dad’s mom has Alzheimer’s, his dad is unable to care for her. They are 83 and 87 respectively. They live in upstate New York where many of their children still live, but none of them help. My parents are in Illinois, that is why they do not help that much. They have, however, made several trips they could not really afford to do what they can. We are sure that when she goes he will be very close afterward.

    My mom’s mom lost her second husband in 28 years last year (my maternal grandfather died months before I was born). This past November she sold her home and many of her possessions. My mom flew out to New York so that her mom would not have to travel alone. She stayed with my parents for a couple weeks until she bought a new house right around the corner from my parents.

    Sadly, I am in Arizona and far from being able to help, but my wife and I are the kind of people who would be comfortable living with three or four generations under one roof!
    Daniel M. Klem recently posted..Scared Running

  13. *sigh*
    My inlaws both live in a nursing home in Witchita. One has end stage alzheimers, and is incoherent. The other has dementia, and is in a constant state of confusion.
    My dad and step-dad have both passed away. One I know is with Jesus, the other…I don’t know.
    My mom…well, we just won’t go there. Haven’t talked to her since Christmas. She’s a mean woman.

    You do indeed have a grand heritage, Matt. Hug everyone a LOT today.

  14. Unfortunately what you are talking about is all too close to home for me. But it has nothing to do with my grandparents. I am 28 years old, my mother is 56. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 4 years ago. Before we knew what was going on my mother had blown through my parent’s life savings and her retirement- we have no idea where the money went. My father took an early retirement to take care of her. They are on a limited income. I spent 2 years living with my parents doing what I could to help, but then I got married and moved out. My mother is not allowed to drive and she has no control of finances, but she is stubbornly independent and runs away because she wants to go grocery shopping. My family and I just spent the last week fighting the state to keep her from being forcibly placed in a nursing home. She was released yesterday and all actions by the state have been ceased. It has been a horrible week. The next week will be spent installing alarms and combination locks and toggle switches on vehicles. If my comment sounds disjointed it is because I’m still processing everything, and I wasn’t expecting to share any of this online.

    People think I’m nuts that I want to avoid nursing homes for my mother all together. She used to be a nurse in a nursing home (something she no longer remembers) and told me as a teenager to never put her in one. I promised I wouldn’t. My husband and I have said we are willing to move back to my parents if it ever comes to that (pretty close call this week)and many people think we’re crazy. I think what your family is doing is awesome, Matt. I value dignity and quality of life for everyone, especially my own mother. I don’t understand the prevalence of putting elderly people in nursing homes- except that it is a money making industry. I understand some conditions require too much care, but many times people are just slower and feeble but I think if families stepped in the elderly could maintain their independence. I commend your family for thinking outside the box and creating an environment for your grandparents that will allow them to maintain their dignity and safety at the same time.
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  15. We probably have another fifteen years before our parents are old enough to need help. However, I have already realized that my grandmother in Tuscon might live with us in the near future. Her son lives in California in a house barely big enough for he and his wife. She is 81 and most folks would consider her full of energy. However, I am seeing some decline. For one thing, I can beat her in a card game for the first time in my life. We currently have an office that, with a little bit of remodeling and a whole lot of de-crapification, could become an “in-law room.” We even have a bathroom with a shower and installed seat a few feet away! However, whenever I mention it, she gets very uneasy, probably because she remembers when her mother moved in with her and because she knows it will be the beginning of the end.

    I remember when my husband’s grandparents, after seventy years of marriage, moved from a bigger retirement home to a smaller retirement home with a homeowner’s association to care for the outside. It was very hard for them because there was a lot of de-crapification and they knew it meant that they were losing abilities After she died a few years later, he eventually had to move to an assisted living center a few minutes from one of his kid’s house. That was even harder for him because it was the last place he shared with his wife of 73 years. He was too stubborn to allow anyone to take care of him. He died still able to play cards and bake pies.

    Have fun with the move and be sure to have them tell lots of stories of their childhood and their marriage when you are done. Record it, if possible. This will be something you will want to know someday and pass it onto your kids.
    tandemingtroll recently posted..Good Friday- Bread and Saying Goodbye to Friends

  16. Matt–
    My family went through this when I was 10. My grandfather had to be moved into a nursing home, and so my dad finished off a bed/sitting room for his mother-in-law and Grandma moved in.
    She lived with them for the next 15 years.
    The first 10 were okay; the next five were harder as she gradually failed and my mother, who is definitely not a nurse by training or inclination, felt more at a loss each morning as Grandma’s heartbeat fluttered and no one was sure if she was going to get out of bed that day.
    My advice (which you can easily disregard)–if this set of grandparents has other children besides your parents, there needs to be a written agreement signed by all siblings about vacations, respite care, emergencies, etc. It was very tough for my parents to always have to schedule any family vacation around five other couples’ schedules. It shouldn’t have happened that my mother wasn’t able to assist my sister when my nephew (the first grandchild in the family) was born because none of her siblings were willing to take Grandma for a few days (they lived all of 25 minutes away). It shouldn’t have happened that my parents weren’t able to get away for a weekend for their 25th, 30th, 35th, etc anniversaries because no one was thoughtful enough to offer them a break.
    For me, as a ten-year old it was great to hear first-hand stories of “the pioneer days” since my grandma was born in 1895. It wasn’t necessarily great when I was old enough to be the one to stay home and not leave Grandma by herself (and give my parents some time) that in her noctural wanderings she was given to exclaiming why I was still up watching tv after 11 pm (SNL, what else?). But it is a treasured memory of hearing her–often in the middle of the night when she couldn’t sleep–snging the old hymns and psalms.
    Did I mention she was mostly deaf and couldn’t carry a tune?

  17. I love your mother’s willingness to bring her in-laws into her home. What a tremendous blessing and a beautiful way to honor them. I think it pleases the Lord.

    I moved every year growing up, being raised by a single mom. We’d move when rent was raised by 5 bucks.

    I feel the most settled, in my life, right now. In my house, with my husband and children where we have been since my wedding day almost 6 years ago.

    I look forward to taking care of my parents and my in-laws when 9and if) the time comes. They have provided for me for so long. I will be honored to do the same.
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  18. I saw my grandparents take in and take care of my great-grandmother. I saw my parents take in my grandmother. Now my brother has our parents. It’s something we grew up in and just expect to do. We are lucky that way, I guess.

    I remember I had to share my bed with my grandmother. I didn’t mind that so much as the nightly prayers that she would pray. She was a prayer warrior, through and through. And I was an angry rebellious teen, through and through. Talk about discomfort! lol But now I consider what she did before me in those moments to be a most precious heritage and one of the best gifts ever received.

  19. I want to agree with the previous commenters that your parents are doing a wonderful thing.

    I have one set of grandparents (mom’s parents). They are 82 and 80. They are able to keep house, go to the grocery store, etc., but the problem is that they live way out in the country. Eventually, something will have to be done and I don’t see mom or her two brothers doing anything. I’m not going to use your blog to vent.

    I hope to be in a rocking chair under a shade tree when I am 80. Now, well, I’m in college. I move every year. :-)

  20. wonderful story…so far.
    you will have to write more about it over time.
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  21. Thanks for sharing about your grandparents. We need to write and honor more people like them. We need to talk about the “little” people who do things behind the scenes. I am also glad they have a grandson who can help unload the truck. I once moved and only one person showed up from my church to help us. Very sad.
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  22. Too funny… we moved a friend on Saturday, too! But they are in their twenties and moved into their first house (vs. apt.) so they had more of the traditional 20-something furniture/decor. Good times!

  23. You’re lucky to have great Grandparents. Some people end up with Grandparents like on Everybody Loves Raymond or George parents on Seinfeld… not fun at all.
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  24. Doing life right vs. talking about doing life right. I love when people live their beliefs. :)

  25. You do have an excellent family who is choosing to do things the right way. God will abundantly bless you and your parents…and your grandparents.