Adventures in Assisting My Parents


Photo credit: Marcel Oosterwijk. Creative Commons

My seventeen-day long trip to St. Joseph, Missouri was a packed full of things to be done for my folks…packing, moving, having a sale, closing out the old apartment, taking over their business affairs, unpacking, taking Dad to the hospital, countless trips between the old apartment and the new one, and, of course, numerous Wal-Mart runs.

The weather was setting records for cold temps and it snowed even more while I was there, prompting school closings, but the task of helping my folks continued on. For a couple of hundred miles, the highways were treacherous and a car spun out right in front of me. I drove over 1700 miles, including about 600 miles back-and-forth across St. Joe.

I slept on an air bed in their new empty apartment for three nights. Then I moved the air bed to the old apartment after they moved out and spent the bulk of my time there. At least, I had a TV and chair there most of the time, which was a serious upgrade. Finally, I stayed at a guest room in the senior center the last three nights, my only time with a real bed.

The volume of work was nearly overwhelming. My wife has always been so good at these types of things. I really missed her, but she didn’t have available time off.

My Dad’s dementia made him impossible to deal with during the first five days of the move and we had to take him to the hospital to get his medication regulated.

I found out that things were not in as good of shape as I thought. It was a messy move. Things I thought were packed were not and things had not been sorted through. So, a lot of excess stuff was moved. My Mom did a lot of the packing before I arrived and Dad’s constant demand for attention seriously cut down her ability to get it done (or have a sane thought). The movers expected a 2-hour move. It took them 6 hours. Much was left behind and I hauled load after load, in nasty weather, having to be buzzed in a double door entrance in the lobby each time.

As I tried to gather the necessary pieces of their business affairs and make the essential appointments and phone calls, I discovered the same messiness. Again, Mom did the best she could, but that wasn’t cutting anymore and she knew it was time to turn things over to me.

Many wonderful things happened while I was there. The staff at Corby Place where they moved were amazing. I navigated a lot of rotten weather safely. The move got done. The sale was successful. The apartment passed the walk through with flying colors. The business I needed to do for them in preparation for taking things over got done. The new apartment, while still needing more boxes unpacked, got arranged and looked nice. The people in St. Joe were delightfully congenial. Most importantly, Dad’s condition improved after I brought him home from the hospital. Amusingly, I happened on to some of my favorite cousins and uncle and it was wonderful visiting with them.

It was challenging, even grueling, but a lot got done. My Mom and I had a good time bonding. It was very meaningful for me being able to help my parents and it felt very purposeful.

When I got home last Thursday evening, I collapsed with dinner in front of me and one of my favorite programs on TV that I had recorded on the DVR.  I didn’t put away a thing until the next morning. It was very good to be home!

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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