Winding Things Up

After precisely four months’ unwavering attention to my elderly mother’s affairs we are beginning to wind things up.

This morning was the penultimate act of resolution of mother’s transition from her house to a retirement apartment, a detail which was fortunately completed in her absence. Shortly after 7:00 a.m. today we met the second-hand collectible dealer at mother’s residence and oversaw the removal of her remnant personal possessions, things she didn’t need or have space for, or things neither I nor my sister cared to have.  Granted most of the stuff wouldn’t have passed for anything more distinguished than junk but nonetheless its accumulation practically filled the two-car garage which is thankfully now empty.  In fact the entire house is now a shell except for the few chattels such as appliances which are included in the sale.  I made a point of leaving a hand-towel and a box of Kleenex in each of the three bathrooms, a modest extravagance admittedly.  Now we wait until August 27th next to close the sale transaction and that should nicely put the lid on things before the snow flies, a concern which my mother expressed more than once.  I was careful to ensure my sister understood that the apparent immediacy of my mother’s relocation (which was clearly careered by me) was prompted not by my desire to avoid contaminating my conscience while we wintered in South Carolina but rather by our mother’s increasingly precipitous decline and her inevitable need for professional supervision and care.  That goal has been achieved; and from what we can gather, successfully and without unsatisfactory fallout.  I am breathing a great deal more easily knowing that my mother has now what is effectively perpetual care without having to rely upon either the goodness, conscience or bona fides of family.

Initially there was no particular rush to accomplish what we’ve done.  But when in early April I discovered that the retirement residence of choice (Colonel By Retirement Living) had a suitable apartment available for a three-month reservation, matters accelerated noticeably.  Previously I had been under the impression that there was a waiting list of between 6 months and one year and even then one was not assured of getting an apartment of choice.  My head aches when I recall the spirited conversations I had with my mother to cajole her into “trying” the apartment in the first place, not to mention the battles that later ensued when we tried to rid her house of fifty years of junk – and I mean junk, nothing sentimental and no family heirlooms, believe me!

The retirement residence, like my mother’s fee-based financial advisor, is unquestionably a luxury.  Fortunately in both instances my mother has the undisputed privilege of being able to afford it.  While I have obviously some level of business skill in the management of mother’s financial affairs, I feel more confident and more diligent in having entrusted the management to a professional advisor, something which also fulfills the object of caution when administering assets in which others (such as testamentary beneficiaries) have an inchoate and anticipatory right.  It is small consolation in the event of a subsequent catastrophic loss that it arose unintentionally.

What has flowed from these numerous undertakings, aside from the satisfaction of knowing the task is done, is a degree of exhaustion.  It has been a very long time indeed that I have tackled so many issues with which I previously had little or no acquaintance.  I would now feel quite confident writing a short essay about everything you need to know about getting mother into a retirement home and arranging to empty her old place and decorate the new one.  My list of contacts has swelled accordingly during this process, people like drapers, electricians, handymen, packers, movers, junk dealers, realtors, clock maker, house cleaner, rug cleaners and hairdressers.  The steep incline of this learning curve has pretty much drained me!  Now that things are finally being wound up I find it requires no provocation at all for me to succumb to utter lethargy.  It is almost a medical condition, not mere indolence.

I often reflect in amazement at what might have transpired if I were not retired and if I were unable to address these erstwhile concerns.  It’s almost as though I were parachuted into the calamity and, having dealt with the crisis, am now on the edge of withdrawing to resume other avocations.  It is of course a blessing now to have nothing other to do than focus upon the very desirable personal schemes which we have on the go.  Although we fortuitously canceled our scheduled summer vacation to the east coast, we have nonetheless embraced certain other conspiracies which continue to absorb our attention and which have yet to unfold. The considerable diversion of my mother’s affairs has whetted my appetite for attention to our personal matters.  There are however just enough on-going obligations for my mother to occupy me further.  For the most part I have regained my domain but the dust hasn’t yet entirely settled.  But we’re getting there!