Today, I packed up my dad and moved him out of his home of 45 years to a one-bedroom assisted living apartment in Owasso. I had a plan. I was organized. I was ready.
What I did not anticipate was being flooded by 40-plus years of memories in that home. As it all started to rush through me, I wiped my eyes and accepted this day wasn’t going to be easy.
The memories started when I walked up the driveway. I remembered riding my bike into the garage day-after-day and where I dismounted and parked it. When I walked into the kitchen, I remembered my parents working together every Thanksgiving to prepare the turkey and stuffing. I could almost smell the fresh herbs and everything in the oven. When I walked into the family room, I remembered where we put the Christmas tree and I could envision my mom and dad hanging ornaments while Christmas records from Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra played in the background.
When I walked down the hallway, I remembered where I watched my parent’s first dog, Magi collapse from a stroke by my bedroom and how much my mom cried that night. When I walked into the study, I remembered my dog, Lincoln. He was the sweetest companion and he would follow me everywhere in that house.
When I walked into the bathroom, I remembered the ridiculous amount of time my mom spent in there. To say she primped is being kind. To say she was vain is accurate. This is the woman who reapplies her make-up every night before she went to bed “just in case” there was a fire.
When I walked to the front door, I remembered all of our friends who have passed through that door. When I walked to the backyard, I remembered the countless hours I spent out there practicing tumbling, ballet and cheer. When I walked into my bedroom, I remembered the quiet place where I could retreat, read, write, and dream. When I walked to the back door, I remembered watching my dad leave and return from work, walking across our backyard to the flower shop and greenhouse.
And when all the furniture was packed, except for the living room couch, I looked and remembered how much I loved curling up next to my mom on it to watch TV…and then I remembered what she looked like the last time she was on that couch before she died.
Then, I walked into my parent’s bedroom. It looked the most strange of all the rooms in the house without furniture. I carefully removed the crucifix on the wall that hung above their bed. Now, it will hang over the same bed in my father’s new home.
One certainty in this human life is change but memories connect us back to those moments — good or bad — to remind us how we got where we are today and how to take another step forward.
It has taken me nearly five years since I lost my mother to get my father here and it has not been easy. It is amazing he is still alive. How I did not give up on him through some really terrible situations can only be explained by God. I rejoiced in hope. I endured in affliction. I persevered in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
As of today, my dad‘s new residence is a couple miles from my home and work. My dad moves from skilled nursing to his new home next week. After I moved his belongings and decorated the apartment, I felt at peace.
I hope my dad can experience joy, again in this new life. I know this transition is hardest on him. Please pray for him. Thanks be to God.