IN OTHER WORDS | When Our Parents Need More

A care package came for me today. I knew it was coming: a box of old letters, photos, and poetry. When she asked if I wanted it, I was tempted to pass, but I have a little of her save everything gene, and I was curious.

She and my stepfather are moving into a retirement community. Everything must go; they are packing up their lives. So you see; it’s not really about the letters. It’s about change.

I have read a few letters already, and smiled. Many, I tossed. One picture was salvaged. There are literary journals from my days at Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts with poet’s names I see on my Facebook feed today. We were so young. I’m glad to have these.

Yes, it’s a little about nostalgia, but it’s more about growing up. It’s about my mom, and my stepfather and this new chapter in their lives. My sister and I have wanted this. Their small Chestnut Hill row house is quaint but has many narrow stairs. My stepfather does the laundry in the basement, carrying large baskets up and down unsteady steps. His knees are not what they once were. My mother is constantly up and down to her office with cups of tea, books, and the phone. And she has fallen, more than once.

Finally, now, no more stairs, and no more cooking, no more raking leaves or shoveling snow. They are going to a community where the care is graduated based on need. My mother’s sister is there, and she needs more care, but they can visit with her. They’ll start in a full apartment with a kitchen. But every night, they’ll have a homemade community dinner. I cannot tell you how much that means. By the end of the day, they are tired, but they want a nice meal. They should have one. They’ll have access to a pool, library, recreation center, pottery studio, and medical care. When they need more in-home care, they will have that too.

And, with this change, it’s about having had some hard conversations about past hurts and getting rid of old resentments. I can’t have my childhood back, but I can heal. I can heal alone, or if the other person is willing to do the work too, we can do it together. My mom was there. We talked a lot last year, wrote emails, filled in the blanks of my memories.

I am so grateful to have her in my life still, and differently. I needed to let go of that anger, not just for her, or for me, but for my children. She did the best she could at the time. Yes, it was very hard for me, but she loved me then and she loves me now. And, for my children, she is a joy. She gives and gives and gives. And they love her so much. What good fortune to have her for a grandmother.

Today, I’m glad she’s not alone. She has a loving husband, and a more comfortable place to call home. They need this. Maybe, they won’t be exhausted all the time. They can enjoy their days. They can relax. No more basement laundry or raking leaves or shoveling snow. Take a load off guys. You’ve earned it. Plus, we’ll send the kids to visit when you’re settled in.


Today is the last day of November and National Blog Posting Month, NaBloPoMo. I did it, a post a day. Hope you enjoyed. I may just have to do it again. It was great. I met a lot of new bloggers and got the creativity flowing. See BlogHer for more information.





  1. I lost most of my journals in a flood a decade ago. Most of what I did at CAPA that had any value to me was kept in a book on my shelf, and a box in the attic, so that was safe (for better or worse). The rest of my childhood angst was washed away, and I’m not sorry. It’s cathartic to let go of the hurts we incurred growing up.

    I hope your parents find their new home enjoyable and restful, and that you find the same where you are.


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