In April 2016, at age 87, my mother took the courageous step of moving from the northern New York village where she had lived for more than 70 years to live with me in Baltimore. This was amazing for several reasons: she has many good friends in NY, she doesn’t have friends living in Baltimore, she has lived alone for more than 40 years and she is fiercely independent. She also was self-aware enough to realize that living alone was no longer working very well. She gave away or sold nearly everything she owned and moved into my (rather small) apartment to live with me and my cat.
On my end, this also was a big change. Like Mom, I had lived alone for a long time (about 25 years) and am very independent. Mom and I have get along well and have always enjoyed spending time together … at least vacation time. But, we weren’t quite sure how living together, especially in a small space, would work. My roommate, Oscar the cat, was pretty accommodating and liked my mother when she came to visit, so I didn’t anticipate any problems between the two of them. It was just whether the two independent people could make it work!
Mom announced her intention to move in with me in November 2015 – she came down for Thanksgiving and told me that she wanted to spend her remaining years with me (and Oscar, of course). Currently, I live in a one-bedroom apartment that is very convenient and pretty comfortable. Mom and I discussed moving into a two bedroom unit but she was adamant that I should not incur more obligations or give up an apartment that I like (OK … love) because of her. So, we talked about converting the dining room/office space into sort of a bedroom and discussed things she would need.
I was both flattered and intimidated by my mother’s request. Taking care of an older person requires patience, which is not my strong suit. Mom planned to go back home to make whatever arrangements were needed – she thought April would be a good time to come down. That gave me a few months to undertake renovations that I had been putting off for 10 years.