The scope of my world has never been especially wide; however, recently the spectrum of my activity has been uncommonly narrow even for me. Since our return from Hilton Head Island mid-March I have been dedicated almost exclusively to two things: 1) getting my mother and her affairs in order; and, 2) planning for our return to Hilton Head Island. While the first may sound altruistic and the second far less so, in fact the two are for me commingled and neither stands happily without the other.
I am pleased to record that as of today my mother has seemingly embraced the prospect of both moving to an apartment and selling her home. This is not a statement I would have advanced so cheerfully no less than a week ago when her disposition was decidedly mercurial. While I have my theory about what has pushed her at last to approach this undoubtedly trying decision with determination, the important thing is that she appears to be there. This morning she spoke of two significant details – selling the house and the disposition of her belongings. Admittedly her resolution is partly tainted with resignation in that she has ostensibly abandoned the element of her personal satisfaction in this transition. For example she no longer voices her sense of loss of independence and possession; instead she is addressing issues which reflect upon preparation for her departure (however that may be interpreted, whether physically or metaphysically).
My view of the same set of facts is quite different. I see the change as a success not a mere accommodation. As I have related to my mother, her level of independence will in my opinion enlarge upon moving to the retirement home. She will no longer be dependent upon the goodness of others for groceries, for travel to medical appointments, for medical appointments period, for cooking or service of food, for household cleaning or laundry, for beauty treatments or for social interaction. There are also practical advantages, like not having stairs to climb; like having a spacious bathroom with a shower built for being seated while showering; like not having to worry about property maintenance or the amount of fuel in the tank or the payment of a myriad of routine management bills. I suspect mother hasn’t yet any appreciation of the prospect of not having to be alone at night; not having to eat alone; not having to be estranged from society. I fashion this move as a step in the direction of dignity. She will live in a highly desirable stone building in an equally desirable residential area along the renowned Rideau Canal on the fashionable Driveway. She will literally have a chauffeur at her disposal. I am making every effort to ensure that her new apartment is choc-a-bloc with her most desirable furnishings and personal effects, mahogany everywhere, precious Persians, silver and original works of art.
Like any properly crafted decision, this venture is also characterized not only by emotional and visceral appeal but also forward-thinking pragmatism. It is inescapable that the amortization of our mortal existence exposes us to heightened medical and physical needs. Getting a foot into this retirement environment includes the possibility of transitioning to higher levels of care without having to do so precipitously and without having to leave the immediate space. Just as entrusting one’s financial affairs to a corporate trustee includes the element of perpetual existence so too the capitulation to a retirement residence offers the remedy of on-demand care and attention without having to rely upon what might turn out to be the declining buoyancy or availability of family.