Moving Mom Part Sixteen – or It’s All the Little Things

March 17th – Today I’m in Florida while Spence is home in Michigan.  I call to wish him Happy Anniversary, 24 years together!  Celebrating will need to be postponed for a few days, he understands (love that man).

Today is the last day that Mom and I have to pack the house and the car.  Tomorrow morning when we close the doors behind us, that’s it.  If we don’t have it, we leave without it.

It’s hard to say goodbye….

I disconnect the DVR, Mom drives it out to Cape Coral for the return.  She fills the gas tank.  I clean and pack what I can, but a lot of little things fall to Mom. Her neighbor Arky stops by with fresh baked toffee pecan scones and an assortment of candy for the road (yummo).  Mom still wants to get across the street for a goodbye with neighbors Jeanne and John.  She calls as they’ve tried to have us over for the last few days but when he answers, John says “our refrigerator just died”.  We’ve all but emptied Mom’s fridge and she offers “you could use mine if you get everything out on Thursday” (new owners arrive to take possession on 3/20).  They come over with a giant cooler taking her up on the offer and then are off to buy a new fridge. Once back, they invite us to come for a little farewell at 4:00. Joining us are another couple who are neighbors and good friends. We have a lovely and spirited conversation over several glasses of wine, cheese and crackers finally walking back around 7:00.  Worth it but we still haven’t eaten and have a good 2-3 hours of work left (and are slightly buzzed…).  Nevertheless, we power through.  I’m in charge of anything electronic from her clock radio to disconnecting the phone, modem and router (crawling around on the floor and under her desk.  Multiple trips to the trash and recycle bins.

Loading the car is a bit tricky as I’ve padded her flat screen TV and her computer monitor and must push them into the back of the trunk on top of blankets.  I’m six feet tall and to do this am nearly inside the trunk pushing up with my two bum shoulders (will pay for this tomorrow…but whatcha’ gonna do right?)

At this point Mom is dragging like a balloon with just a bit of air left and starts referring to me as “General”  “You’re the General, just tell me what to do – I can’t think” she mumbles and so I have to revert to military precision to get everything into the trunk and backseat and keep her moving forward.  We finally reach a point where we can do no more as the coolers will wait for the morning.  We crawl to our respective “racks” and I think I hear Taps playing in the distance.

Moving Mom Part Fifteen or Nearing the Finish Line, Ready or Not

It's all about staying positive. It’s all about staying positive.

March 16th p.m. – This afternoon, Mom took the car to be detailed at a car wash just a few miles away (Spence had discovered this place).  For $26, they did a phenomenal job including bringing her $50 in cash ($20 and 3 $10’s) that she must have stashed under the seat in the past and never missed.  She was stunned, tipped the young guy $5 and was so happy with how clean the car was.  With the POD gone, she could park in the garage for the first time in a week (I’d been moving it each night to the clubhouse). She stopped over to say a quick goodbye to long-time friend Don and his family, who are visiting and know her well.  Her neighbor, Arky, invited us for tea, coffee cake, pineapple and candy – and a short goodbye visit.  Back to the house, she went back to work on cleaning those shelves in her bedroom closets and bathroom.  This on top of having sprayed any little driveway weeds with weedkiller and picking up all the old hibiscus blossoms from under the tree.  Needless to say, I got dinner ready and she flopped down to the table, ate, requested another glass of wine (so I opened another bottle) and then crawled off to the living room to catch a few minutes of the evening news.  She asked me to clean up the kitchen.  “Including loading your dishwasher?” I asked incredulously.  “Yes”, she replied (nearly comatose).  My Mom loads her dishwasher with a shoehorn after first nearly scrubbing them till they are 95% clean.  I’ve NEVER been allowed to load her dishwasher.  Clearly, she was tired….really tired.

She just took her shower, in hopes of reviving herself enough to get through at least the first hour of Dancing with the Stars.  You may laugh (but don’t judge) that we planned the return of the DVR to Comcast to fall the day after the Season Premiere of this much loved show.  If she doesn’t make it till the end, we’ll watch it in the morning, then unhook it and back it goes, no more TV for us.

Stay tuned….

Moving Mom – Part Fourteen or Minutia & Adios to the POD

March 15th – Today Mom is up before me yet again, cleaning the white open metal shelving in her bedroom closets – with a toothbrush.  I have to admire her ethics and attention to detail, she just wants the new owners to be happy when they walk in. After I finish breakfast, I take one hour at the pool, almost certainly my last.

The POD is picked up tomorrow and I’ve moved everything that will go into the car onto the lanai so that we get a visual of what we’re dealing with. That leads to a decision put some of those things into the POD rather than cram the car.  I do a final vacuuming of the entire house so we can pack the vacuum.  We’re now in the “final stretch”.  Every drawer – emptied and wiped out, every closet – a double check of the shelves. Important papers for her new apartment – lease, POD contract etc. must be packed in the car as we’ll be back in Michigan before it’s delivered.  The computer and her flat screen TV are padded and will accompany us in the car so that I can hook those up when we get back as Comcast will come 3/27 to hook it up, deliver her DVR and cable boxes.

We have lunch with our take-out Tiramisu from Bianca’s last night. Excellent. Mom takes a well deserved power nap after lunch while I prep dinner – tacos, guacamole and chips. Using the one cutting board, large saucepan and a paring knife (left for the new owners) I chop the romaine, tomatoes, avocado then brown the ground beef and onions.  When Mom gets up we decide to have our Root Beer Float Break (this is now our mid-day treat and most refreshing).  More packing and before you know it, it’s time for our Mexican Fiesta.

Having not received an email from the POD people about pick-up tomorrow, I check online.  Scheduled but no time indicated, Mom calls but after waiting forever, can’t hear the guy when she does get a human then the call disconnects.  Operating on telepathy, we look at each other and head to the garage, load those final items in the POD, tie them down, lock it.

It’s a beautiful Monday morning….

March 16th – We’re both up early, I check email – nothing from the POD people.  As I pour my second cup of tea I hear something – the beep-beep-beep of a truck backing up.  Running to the front door, I see that the truck is here at 7:30 a.m. to pick up the POD.  Hurrah!

Buh-bye POD, happy trails to you…..

Moving Mom Part Thirteen – or Let’s Reward Ourselves

March 14th – Mom was up ahead of me (again), had her breakfast and when I walked to the kitchen I found her half inside the refrigerator, purging out things that we won’t need now that the move is days away. As she worked, she cleaned each shelf, removed every drawer and the door “cubbies” (there’s probably a word for those) and washed/dried them.

We ran a few errands including another stop at Goodwill with donations, ate a quick lunch then cleared the dining room table. I brought out the MAC, she grabbed the maps, TripTik and Travel Guides that Spence had provided from AAA.  Until 2014 (when she flew), Mom has driven by herself each summer from Florida to Michigan – sometimes in 4 days/3 nights and at least once in 3 days/2 nights.  “What’s your preference?” she asked.  I said “4 days/3 nights” and from her reaction it was clearly her preference.  It’s a road trip after all. And I bought 4 bottles of wine yesterday to enjoy after each day of driving (plus have my wine tote with corkscrew, wine glasses, bottle stopper and even 2 small cloth napkins).

Not that it’s just about the wine (it kind of is).

Mom is a member of Club Carlson and likes the Country Inn and Suites because they include refrigerators, microwaves and a full hot/cold breakfast – and the rooms are always well appointed and clean.  Based on her history, she chose where she’d like to stop each night and I booked the rooms for Tifton, Georgia, Loudon Tennessee and Dayton Ohio.  Should we need to modify based on traffic or weather delays, we can cancel before 6:00.  Done!

Earlier we’d discussed dinner and as we’ve emptied the fridge/freezer quite impressively, we decided “let’s reward ourselves” and headed out for a favorite local Italian place, Bianca’s Ristorante.


The site of many a wonderful meal and memories, it seemed only fitting that we come here.

Mom had her favorite – beef ravioli with their terrific house-made marinara; I choose the Calamari and Clams, sautéed in butter and garlic finished with a white wine sauce over fettuccine.  Their garlic butter rolls topped off this fabulous meal.  But wait……no room for dessert. Never fear, our server Ava brought us two house-made tiramisu’s to go.  It’s a state law that you have to order the tiramisu at Bianca’s. (Look it up if you doubt me)

Good times with Mom and a fitting reward.

And upon arriving home, a beautiful sunset!
And upon arriving home, a beautiful sunset!

Moving Mom Part Twelve – or Taking a Day Off

March 13th  – With the POD fully loaded a full day early, we made a plan to take “a day off” and head to Sanibel and Captiva Islands.  I haven’t been there for a few years but in the 30 or so years that Mom has lived in Florida, we’ve made many a memory there.  This would be our last hurrah before we get back to the final days before “moving Mom”.

After winding through Ft Myers in the high season traffic, we arrived at the bridge, paid our toll and started across.  Wind surfers were having a blast on this breezy day, their colorful sails whipping back and forth, tossed up and down in the sparkling aqua waters.  It was an exciting sight to watch them as we traveled over the spans connecting Ft Myers to Sanibel.  Arriving at noon, we headed straight to our favorite lunch spot, Sanibel Cafe.


Amazingly, we got seated immediately at the last table for two.  We ordered a couple glasses of Pinot Grigio, getting our drink on as evidenced below:

Mom ordered their shrimp salad served with lettuce, tomato with a side of fresh assorted fruit and a grilled croissant with their homemade raspberry jam.  I ordered the Rusty Pelican which I thought would be easier to explain by snapping a picture of the menu:


This cafe has been around since 1984 and each table has a glass top over a navy backed shadow box of shells.  Here’s a bit about that:

Every table is a virtual shell extravaganza!
Every table is a virtual shell extravaganza!
From the menu explaining how they did it!
From the menu explaining how they did it!

Too full to even think of ordering their delicious key lime pie (even to split), we headed out to Captiva for a final look.  Captiva has a wildness about it as well as high-end real estate, hidden from sight by strategically curved driveways, some lodging, great restaurants like the Bubble Room and The Mucky Duck.  It was fun to drive out until the road ended and then we headed back through Sanibel to its end at the lighthouse with a pier and shell studded beach. Having given away her beach chairs, we’d grabbed an old picnic blanket, Mom’s visor and Kindle, a cooler and my iPhone to capture the beauty.  First a selfie:


Then the walk:

A group of friends:



After watching for dolphins (which sadly didn’t appear), we headed back to Pinocchio’s Ice Cream for a refreshing treat (and also our tradition).


I had Gator Stew – vanilla with swirls of peanut butter and studded with peanut butter cups – and pale green (Gator perhaps?) and Mom had the Heath Bar Crunch.  The smallest bowl was still substantial and we scored the best Adirondack chairs on their deck, in the shade and finished every bite.

A great day off indeed!

Moving Mom Part Eleven – or Sometimes You Have to Accept that the Universe is Giving You a Gift

Really freaking fragile stuff


March 12th – I wake up at 5:30, take my thyroid pill and decide to meditate for a bit so that when I emerge from the guest room, my attitude from last night is decidedly more positive.  When I come out, Mom has already had breakfast and has clearly been up for awhile (in fact 4:30 a.m. – yikes!)  She’s on a mission.  I quickly throw down 2 cups of tea and an english muffin (using the broiler since the toaster is packed) and immediately go to work on disconnecting all her computer components, then packing like a woman possessed (mirroring Mom I might add).  Finally at 10:00 I’ve reached a natural stopping place and head for the showers. Mom knocks on the door to ask me  the same question that just had popped into my head, “Shall we call Hugo and tell him to come now?”  I think I said “Hell yes”  but maybe thought the Hell part and just agreed.  By the time I’m out of the shower and dressed, he’s at the door.  We’d already covered and padded the sofa and love seat (that was loaded a few days ago) and quickly give him a synopsis of what we’ve got going on – fragile, very fragile, clothes, kitchen miscellaneous (you get my drift).  Hugo is great (forget my  disparaging comments from the last post when we suddenly found out he had to come a day earlier than originally planned).  Like a master puzzle-maker, he fit everything in, crawled over boxes to secure the ropes through the “eyelets” then stood up, grabbed a rail and Tarzan-style, swung out over the boxes rather than risk walking over them (quite impressive let me tell you).  He was done in under an hour.  I think Mom and I were in shock.  This was a gift – we just gained a full day by the universe sending us a virtual kick in the pants to ramp up the packing.  We were euphoric, nearly giddy.  She paid him, we high fived, hugged, locked the POD.  I slapped on a bit of makeup and we went to Heavenly Pizza for lunch and a glass o’wine!  (toasting numerous times over the fact that the POD is PACKED)

We went to pick up her taxes (another nod from the universe) that had just been completed.  Then came home, had a piece of key lime pie and went to our respective rooms for a nap. (maybe the packing, the excitement or stress or the glass of wine – don’t judge)

Here is a gallery of the garage, boxes, packing, Hugo and the POD.  The sense of relief is HUGE. (or shall I say HUGO? – another pun – sorry I’m a little delirious)

The moral of the story is that sometimes the universe sends you a gift.  Maybe you don’t “get it” at first.  Maybe you don’t like it. But take a breath (or two), sleep on it – and the next day you’ll appreciate it more than you could have imagined.  Lesson learned universe….and thanks.


Moving Mom Part Ten or Detour, Plot Twist – or Both

March 11th – I don’t sleep particularly well, but am rested enough.  However as soon as I see Mom, I know she hasn’t slept well at all.  At 9:30 her realtor picks her up to sign the closing documents for the sale of her home of 26 years, we have two full days of packing ahead and I can tell her “brain is too full”.  While she’s gone, I decide to really hop to it, clearing, packing then wiping down shelves, drawers, and scrubbing both pantry floors on my hands and knees – something that physically is challenging (especially the getting back up part). After they return, her realtor comes in to meet me and give the house a once over, remarking “oh you’ve still got a lot to do”.  I’m not amused but am sure she didn’t mean it offensively, she’s been great to Mom throughout the process.  And Hugo isn’t coming till Friday at 8 a.m. so we have the whole rest of the day and all day Thursday.  We’ve got this.

Pack, pack, pack (Same Old Shit) or “I’ll Take What’s Behind Door #2” (Crazy New Shit)

Look out for the Detour:

We pack, mid-day we do our root beer float break, pack more, then dinner.  We even toast as we polish off a bottle of Malbec about how swimmingly things are going. I compliment Mom on coordinating the myriad of “moving parts” (pun intended).  She thanks me for the gazillionth time for everything I’m doing to help her. She’s really beat and says that she’s probably going to turn in at 8 p.m. then hit the ground running Thursday.  Then she remembers that even though Hugo just stopped by to confirm the POD packing Friday at 8 a.m. a few days ago, she’ll just “touch base”.  She leaves a voicemail.  About five minutes later he calls back and I can only hear Mom’s side of the conversation but here’s the gist “I can’t do Friday, my trip to Miami has been moved up by a day.  I have to come Thursday”.  “WHAT????”  (the voice inside my head screams –  really loud) We are NOT READY for tomorrow and she/we are exhausted.  She bargains and cajoles, he agrees to come at 1:00 rather than the morning.  We allow ourselves to vent to each other for about five minutes. Now fired up we know we have to knock out more packing tonight.



I walk into the garage to grab a couple of empty boxes only to find a pipe from the attic actively dripping and soaking those boxes –  and the floor under them (we’d had quite a rainstorm late afternoon). It’s 8:30 p.m. and I now must inform Mom of the latest plot twist.  Mom is seriously upset as this pipe/leak thing has been repaired twice. The last time (quite recently) cost a bit extra but came with assurances that “it will never happen again.” She calls the after-hours line for the company and tells them to get someone out here tonight. Within 30 minutes, the guy is here, goes into the attic 30 minutes later – he’s fixed it! (though he seemed perplexed that it happened at all but then he’s gone…. into the dark of night)  Mom mumbles, “I’m going to bed” and disappears into her room.  I hit the showers since I feel like a piglet (and not the Winnie the Pooh kind of piglet) and then collapse.  We have already agreed to get up early and pack, pack and pack before Hugo arrives at 1:00.

A wise quote from a wise woman (is my best guess)
A wise quote from a wise woman (is my best guess)

Stay tuned……and enjoy the scenery (again, pun intended)