Moving Mom Part Nine – or Everyone Should Have a Root Beer Float Break

March 10th – later that day….  Upon our return from lunch and a last stop at a favorite boutique, I could no longer put off the task of unhooking “the music system”.  Mom loves her music and she’d invested in a very good Yamaha stereo system which was also connected to her TV to enhance any show with music.  The entertainment center and TV (and for a few more days, the DVR from Comcast) would remain with the buyers of Mom’s house.  Unable to move this piece of furniture away from the wall, armed with a flashlight and wedging my right hand and arm into the tight space, I get my first look at the back of the stereo.  “Holy crap” I thought.  More connectors than I’d expected but not one to back down from a challenge, I was the only one who could do it. So I sucked it up and began.  The young whiz kid that hooked this up had thoughtfully zip-tied the cords however so I had to snip those (carefully).  Saying a little prayer I began painstakingly disconnecting one connector at a time.  And I found almost immediately that I first had to unhook the DVD/VHS player (more cords) and get it out of the way. Drawing diagrams on note pads (in a way that probably will only hold meaning for me and possibly ancient cave dwellers) I taped notes to cords and to the respective pieces of electronics;  I’ll be the installer when we get to Michigan.  Not my favorite part of the moving story thus far but I did it! (Insert sound of applause and slaps on the back here)

Kudos to me!
Kudos to me!

Mom, perhaps taking pity on me – or being thirsty – or with a compelling need to finish off the vanilla ice cream and 1/2 liter of root beer, suggests “how about a root beer float break?”  To which I perk right up and say “yes and let’s do this every afternoon” to which she readily agrees.

Root Beer Float Break - a necessary diversion and a mighty tasty, frosty little beverage.
Root Beer Float Break – a necessary diversion and a mighty tasty, frosty little beverage.

After dinner, Mom can barely crawl off to bed (at 8 pm) and I’m not far behind.  Two more days of packing before Hugo arrives to pack the POD.  Tick tock.

Moving Mom Part Eight – or One Bittersweet Goodbye

March 10th – Today Mom and I both awake well rested, even sleeping in a bit. We do a little strategizing but then must freshen up and head out to meet her dear friend Colette for lunch and one bittersweet goodbye.

Backstory: My stepdad Chuck died of pancreatic cancer not long after they built this house we’re packing up. Hospice was called which helped Mom immeasurably in getting him through his final days at home.  Fast forward a few years, wanting to pay it forward she began volunteering for Hospice.  After working in various capacities she was assigned to work in their office for Colette, who supervises over 100 volunteers.  Colette, (a few years younger than me) and Mom just clicked.  When Mom had to give her notice due to her imminent move, it was a sad day – for them both – but not goodbye just yet.

Since Colette is very busy, Mom had her choose a date, time and place for lunch.  Mom and I arrived first and when she saw Colette, the two of them had a long embrace, both emerging with tearful eyes, which made me tear up as well.

Emotions in check, we placed our order for crepes – Chicken and Almond (Mom and I), Vegetable (Colette).

It was a spirited, fun lunch as we caught up on recent events.  Finally it was time for goodbyes, lots of hugs, a few tears; hopeful that their paths may cross again, knowing regardless that they’ll stay in touch.

Moving Mom Part 7 – or “It’s a Post-It World & We’re Just Living In It”

In an effort to give us a sense of progress, I’ve gone closet by closet, cupboard by cupboard, drawer by drawer and when empty, placing a post-it (the Gallery below is but a small sampling).  There’s a sense of accomplishment though I’m pretty sure we’ll do a final sweep, side by side and look into everything one last time, especially since the buyer’s of Mom’s home are keeping a lot of her furniture.

And this is the inside of the POD

IMG_4792

We are most grateful tonight as several family friends (younger, stronger with better backs and shoulders) came by to see the POD then loaded the sofa and love seat.  Even though Mom’s hired Hugo (who’s worked for her before) to load the POD, those pieces couldn’t be moved by one person. Between she and I, neither has the back, shoulders or strength to help him.

So to those kind, dear friends – you lightened our load and we thank you.

Remember to follow spencesgirl.wordpress.com if you like this series….it’s far from over.

Moving Mom Part Six – The POD Has Landed

March 9th  This is the day the POD arrives.  The POD people emailed Mom last night estimating an afternoon arrival and promising that the driver will call when he’s en route.  Shortly before 2:00, Tom (the driver) called as promised.  She moved her car onto the lawn since otherwise we’d be car-less until the 16th when it’s scheduled to be picked up and sent north. Here’s a little gallery:

Car is out of garage, POD has pulled up in front of house
Car is out of garage, POD has pulled up in front of house
Tom is hooking up the apparatus that he will
Tom is hooking up the apparatus so that he can “drive it” off the truck and into position.
Apparatus is now in
Apparatus is now in “wheels down” position.
The POD has landed! Mom purchased the lock & key set, in her hot little hand.
The POD has landed! Mom purchased the lock & key set. It’s in her hot little hand.  Ain’t no stopping us now….

POD THE MOVIE – starring Tom and his remote control guidance “thing-y”.  Get ‘er done!

Moving Mom – Part Five or The Day Before the Pod People Arrive

March 8th – I slept in, even with losing an hour to Daylight Savings Time.  I knew Mom was going to church at 8.  She loves this church and had to say goodbyes today to people she’s become very close to. Most special is Pat who is in her 90’s, who she sits with every week and that goodbye was emotional.

When I got up I found a note proclaiming “Baked Oatmeal – delicious”.  I’d made it the night before using my recipe (featured under “Recipes” category on this blog) with a few modifications as I was working with the ingredients at hand.  I had to agree, it was great.  As I was finishing breakfast, she returned and we discussed what we need to accomplish for the day.  She had some paperwork to sort through so I decided to skip over to the pool for a bit. (no I didn’t actually skip, I’m 58)

The most perfect pool day!
The most perfect pool day!

With a robust breeze accompanied by a brilliant blue sky and puffy clouds, it was probably the most glorious pool day ever.  I arrived a bit before noon, sure that on a Sunday the pool would be crowded.  It was empty!  Only a 2-3 people in their respective lounge chairs, I dipped my hand in the water to find it pleasantly warm.  Dropped off my iPhone and Kindle, towel and flip flops and took advantage of having the pool to myself.  It was heaven and when I did get out, I had to wrap up in my towel because that breeze felt cool even though it was 81 degrees.  I read for a while, took a call from Spence who put Tipper (one of my kitties) on the phone to say hi (I did most of the talking).

IMG_0957
Tipper, as I imagine he looked hearing my voice but wondering when he’ll ever see me again. Soon, kitten, soon.

I finally forced myself to go back after 1 1/2 hours but no complaints, it was perfection.

Had a quick lunch, finishing off the yet another freezer container.  Quick shower and then back to trip preparation/organization.  Mom had cleaned out the car while I was gone so we reviewed what would stay (provisions for the road) and assessed the size of the trunk and backseat.  What doesn’t get loaded into the Pod, must to go in the car – or be left behind.  Got notification that the Pod will arrive tomorrow afternoon, right on schedule.  With the Pod people coming, tomorrow will be an eventful day. We accomplished more today, especially Mom, sorting paperwork and her desk.  At one point we high five’d, then fist bumped.  For the life of me, I can’t recall why, only that we were celebrating progress or another good idea, perhaps both. I guess it’s not important, it simply illustrates our positivity.

That's one way to look at it.  We'll choose positive, it's just who we are.
That’s one way to look at it. We’ll choose positive, it’s just who we are.

So our message to you Pod People, “Bring it!”

It’s a long journey and I hope you’re enjoying it….more to come from the Moving Mom series here at spencesgirl.wordpress.com, thanks for joining us.

Moving Mom Part Four – or the Day We Got Back on Track

March 7th – Mom’s feeling so much better though the morning is a bit gloomy.  Considering she’s much peppier and motivated, I’ve decided to ditch pool time and follow her lead.

I thought it might be nice to share a picture of Mom since she's giving me a lot of blog material.
I thought it might be nice to include a picture of Mom since she’s giving me a lot of blog material for the “Moving Mom” series. And I should clarify, this picture was taken at a different time.  She doesn’t drink wine for breakfast. (at least not in front of me)

Mom’s Freezer –  A little back story for those who’ve never lived with or visited my Mom.  Though a widow for many years, she prepares a complete meal nearly every night. Entrée, salad, wine, veggie and a roll, pasta, rice or potato and a little something sweet in the evening. As a result, she always has leftovers of some quantity that end up in the freezer filling empty containers which once held cottage cheese, sour cream etc.  She’s pretty good about labeling but prior to the upcoming move, her freezer was either “gold mine or land mine”.  And by that I mean – something really good or something that’s beyond recognition.  And she’s a “dab saver” meaning she wastes nothing so lots of tiny “packets” of stuff. Some of it is comical and we laugh as we toss it. Before she knew she was moving, her freezer was filled to capacity. It must be hereditary as this explains why I need to jump back when opening my own overstuffed freezer for fear of frozen objects landing on my always bare feet.

The plan: identify, pitch or keep.  She compiles a list of what we’re keeping while I consolidate multiple small packets of ground beef, rotisserie chicken etc., into larger marked ziplock bags. Now we know what’s left to use up for our final meals at home.  I’m very creative in the kitchen and a “Chopped” junkie (reference: The Food Network). I love to discover random refrigerator, freezer and pantry items to whip up a gourmet meal sans recipes.  My mind is already at work.

After a short break, we make serious in-roads into both her large and small pantry. I carry donation items to her car and clear the garage of numerous recyclable items.  We eat a tasty dinner of “found leftovers”.

Only once have we locked horns ( probably overstating). Mom was determined to fit the guest room lamp (without the shade) into the same box as her very large, old fashioned milkshake machine.  I’m talented at “spatial capacity” and I told her “no way in hell it will fit”.  She is just as determined that it will.  After a stand-off,  we agree to unplug and de-shade/de-bulb the lamp so that she can try it.  Needless to say I was right.

I'm almost always right. Just ask Spence.
I’m almost always right. Just ask Spence.

But we have to pack that lamp as it’s moving anyway so now it’s ready for it’s own box. After dinner I throw together a batch of baked oatmeal, thus using up more pantry and fridge items including the frozen raspberries in the freezer.  Her brown sugar is packed so I improvise with a combination of white sugar and real maple syrup.  While it bakes, we cue the DVR for the latest Shark Tank and watch while enjoying the last of our Key Lime Pie.

I shall remember this as the day we got back on track.

Moving Mom – Part Three – or Take A Breath Already

March 6th – I wake up at 4:30 a.m. with thoughts pinging around the inside of my brain.  Too early to take my thyroid pill, I go back to bed and meditate, then read a bit.  I fall into a weird “sleep” I guess because though I’m aware I’m laying in bed I have a dream in which Jennifer Aniston, Jimmy Kimmel and Neil Patrick Harris are putting on some kind of outdoor event, honoring me – in my backyard.  And I’m right there with them as crowds of people arrive but to my horror, I find I’m sans pants. Then I wake up. If you analyze dreams, please send me a message privately to explain that dream. It was freaky, but I digress…..

The good news:  Mom is smiling (her natural demeanor) and not squeaking – her voice is back. She’s clearly improving but with so many loose ends to tie up, I need to find every way to keep us on track and not forgetting anything essential.  That brings me to this picture that is reminiscent of me today (and at many times in my past working life):

My brain is too full. When your brain is too full, you must open the little trap door in the back, off-load the excess thereby avoiding a messy explosion.
My brain is too full.
When your brain is too full, you must open the little trap door in the back, off-load the excess thereby avoiding a messy explosion.

She’s taking her car for an oil change, new wiper blades, battery, front end alignment and anything else that should be evaluated before we start the long drive from Florida to Michigan. Left alone, I start on cleaning and organizing.  She left me with a tub of coins and wrappers asking that I roll them up which I do while simultaneously watching last night’s Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.  Her car is taking longer than expected, they drop her at home. They’ll pick her up when it’s done. We eat lunch, she cat-naps and I blog. When the dealership comes to pick her up, I join her. We run errands, forgetting to drop off her tax stuff as planned, realizing it only after we’re back home.  Another day….

Not all day everyday, but breathing is important. Given that we've both been sick, we need to make time for it and no relapses.
Not all day everyday, but breathing is important. Given that we’ve both been sick, we need to make time for breathing, no relapses for us.

En route home, Mom stopped off at Bealls, a great Florida-based department store.  I’m a huge fan of local artist, Leoma Lovegrove who does a line for them including clothing, bags, beach towels, luggage tags, gift bags, i-phone covers – you name it, they make it in her wildly original, vibrant designs. I’d seen this purse (see below) a few days ago when we popped in but now had $20 in Bealls cash burning a hole in my wallet and had to use or lose it. Originally $40, with the daily 30% off and my Bealls cash plus tax, it came to a whopping $8.48.  If you’ve followed me, you know that my passion for Spence is seconded only my love of cats.  Knowing it would be a lasting reminder of this trip to move Mom, I couldn’t resist.  What do you think?

Too cute for words. Some may not agree, cat owners will totally get it.
Too cute for words. Some may not agree, cat owners will totally get it. Cat people are my people.

We stopped and picked up a couple of items at the Publix store (which she’ll miss dearly) including a 1/2 Key Lime Pie we shared while watching the season finale of Downton Abbey.  Mom was fading fast as the show neared it’s end and could hardly muster the energy to get off the couch and into bed.  I fear that my constant barrage of questions and activity, may have been too much for her first day of feeling better.

Tomorrow, we’re (meaning me) going to calm down, fit in an hour of pool time and knock out a bit more packing.  To the control freak who lives inside of me and is endlessly asserting itself into thoughts, words and action.  “Just breathe and chillax already.”

If Liz says so, it's good enough for me.
If Liz says so, it’s good enough for me. And if by a drink she means wine, so much the better.  Wise woman that Liz Taylor.

Stay tuned for more on the “Moving Mom” series.  You can sort by categories or use the search box to find all related posts.  And by the way, many thanks for stopping by.

Moving Mom – Part Two or It’s Not Only About Packing

March 4th – I awake and realize I’m in Florida, out of the sub-zero, frozen tundra of Michigan.  Lovely. Over breakfast I can see that Mom, who’s by now on her third dose of antibiotic, seems sick but is hanging in there.  We start talking about the tasks at hand and I start my “take-charge/bouncing off” ideas that are cascading out of my amped-up, moving-motivated brain. She’s grateful and all too happy to have someone else suggest ideas on packing the POD which will be dropped off 3/9 and once loaded with her worldly goods, taken away on 3/16.  We discuss our road trip north (I-75 to Michigan) and the importance of stocking in a few bottles of wine (we could be stranded in dry counties!) for the road as well as Kindles and Dominoes.

Part of this trip is the nostalgic last-time tour of my favorite spots. We decide that today is as good as any to drive out to Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda for lunch at my favorite seafood restaurant.  Off we go, with me driving her car (a good plan since we’ll share the drive north) and make a bee-line for the Village Fish Market Restaurant.  Our tradition, order the basket of Fried Mozzarella and Zucchini appetizer to split (served with ranch and honey mustard) and I get the fried oyster entree with their exceptional onion rings and the jalapeño cornbread.  I can only say that there is NOWHERE ON EARTH that does fried food any better! (check my Trip Advisor review if you think I’m embellishing)  I almost weep thinking “will I ever be here again?” but suck it up so I don’t make Mom cry as well.  She even makes a point as we’re leaving to say goodbye to their bartender who’s waited on us in the past and is exceptional.  (Sigh)

March 5th – Mom is really sick today. I’m concerned based on her past. Some years back she had a horrific sinus infection that lasted seven months during which she lost 20% of her body weight (and she can’t keep weight on – and yes, lest you ask, she is my birth mother – sadly she didn’t pass on this trait to my sister and I. Sigh again.) She’s now losing her voice and looks (as I did the week prior) like a kitten could kick her ass.  I’m still in the take-charge mode but know she’s grateful and frankly doesn’t even care what I’m doing.  She just wants to lie down and sleep. I decide to get out of her hair and do some pool time since I think my hyper-activity is stressing her out.

IMG_4730
I’m at the pool, hanging out and showing off the pedicure. This picture makes my legs look huge.  Oh well.
The view from the pool, oh how I'll miss this.
The view from the pool, oh how I’ll miss this.

I come back in time to freshen up and meet her Financial Advisor who’s arranged to stop by. I get her out of bed to join us and her voice is down to a squeak.  She looks like she’s barely hanging on.  I think she’s on the wrong antibiotic but she wants to stick with it till the next morning so I back off my “Dr. Laura” routine.  I take out the recycle bin and notice the night sky is full of stars and the moon is magnificent.  I run for my i-phone to capture it.

IMG_4739
My attempt to capture what cannot be described. Not bad but seeing it while standing outside in shorts and sandals at 9 p.m. is a different experience. Take my word for it.

Tomorrow is another day, hoping Mom is improved or I’ll be hog-tying her and dragging her to the doctor!

Moving Mom – Part One or So It Begins

March 3rd – I got out of Michigan – barely. About 90% recovered from an upper respiratory infection (with a setback the day prior) I awoke feeling pretty good. I typically fly out of Flint’s Bishop Airport, very close to home.  However, when I booked my flight, the only non-stop left from Detroit on Spirit.  I’ve flown from Detroit many times, typically an hour+ from home.  As I fixed my tea, I was delighted to see sun and clear skies.  Hurrah!  I’m not a relaxed flier and had misplaced the guardian angel pin that has adorned my shoulder for every flight in the last 25 years.

Then I got up for my second cup of tea.  As I entered the kitchen, much to my horror a blizzard was in full swing.  What? Why? I felt a little cramp in my gut. I headed up to finalize my packing, this time I found my guardian angel pin. OK, feeling better.  By the time we left, several inches had accumulated.  Just trying to get down our street (which is a main road) we realized that freezing rain had fallen first and we could barely keep the SUV on the road.  Great.  With Spence driving, I checked with Spirit, my 2:55 flight was now pushed back to 4:36 but hadn’t been cancelled.  Then the weather took a turn – to freezing rain.  Little ice pellets pelting the windshield, vehicles off the road around every turn.  A huge white pick-up passed us, spun out, hit the cement barrier, bounced off and shot backwards right at us.  Just missed us and landed off the road. Yikes.  Spence, God love him, is a great driver but grumbled in a tense voice “from now on we won’t fly unless we can leave from Flint” the thought that had already run through my head.  Lunch and cocktails at Metro’s TGI Fridays, followed by three gate changes, boarding at 5:30, de-iced and wheels up by 6:15 p.m.  Success!

Safe in Ft Myers, a balmy evening. Mom picked me up at baggage claim, a big smile followed by “Don’t hug me, I’m sick”.  Arriving late, she had things for a light dinner/snack but apologized for not having the house “picked up”. I reminded her of the reason I’m here – to help her pack up her home of the last 26 years and move her back to Michigan.  I expected boxes, empty picture hooks and the like.  The house had sold quickly and she’s been working nearly every day since on the process of “take it, give away or pitch it”.  That said, I did feel a twinge of sadness as we’ve had so many happy memories here.

Lots o’ boxes.  And more to do! Stay tuned……