Aging Parents: Leaving Home For Good

A no doubt often-repeated scene as adult children try to help aging parents

An elderly well-dressed, frail-looking mother in a wheel chair. An adult daughter getting snacks at the airport before boarding a plane.  Apologies about the mother’s wheelchair blocking access to the cash register.  My response–not wanting to make the elderly mother feel bad for causing the ‘roadblock’–  “No problem, I’m not in a hurry.”

We ended up sitting near each other in the same boarding area to take the same plane to another state.  Bits of conversation.  Had the mother and daughter been vacationing  in San Diego?  Question directed at the mother.  “No, she’s coming to live nearer me and my sister,”  answered the daughter.

Additional conversation disclosed that the mother had lived in the San Diego area since she was a teenager.  Dismantling her home was a major job; a moving van was transporting her furniture to an assisted living facility.  The daughter then busied herself with something.  Her mother sat quiety in the wheel chair.  I read my magazine.  I don’t know what made me glance up and look towards the mother and daughter again but I thought I saw the elderly mother’s lip quivering.

Later, after boarding the plane and beginning the walk to my seat, I glimpsed the daughter sitting by the window–looking out. Her elderly mother sat next to her in an aisle seat, looking down at her lap–a tear running down her cheek.

My friend  Katy’s observation, made several years ago, leaped from my memory bank.  “It’s like pulling a flower in the garden up by the roots.”

P.S. Katy helped her parent age well in her own home until she died in her 90’s…but then, she lived near.