Adventures With Mother

She’s been my Mother for just over 47 years now which means I have to change my twitter bio from thirtysomething to fortysomething. And in this time I have got to know her reasonably well but even so, you never can be quite sure.

She lives in a massive two storey four bedroom house which was fine while Dad was still here but now I have my worries about it.

First of all the stairs, which all the time I was growing up I wanted us to live in a house with stairs. She’s no longer a spring chicken and all the bedrooms and showers are upstairs, which of course does not preclude us from making her a downstairs apartment if she would like to remain there. There is a downstairs toilet but it is a touch too small to add in a shower.

Second of all the just throwing off shoes in the middle of the floor for her to trip over at a later time which worries me greatly. As pictured above.

Thirdly the lack of a phone nearby at all times. I’ve had to go over a couple of times when her phone was on silent or not nearby. 9 times out of ten it is upstairs when she is downstairs and vice versa. This will be solved with an Apple watch.

Fourthly, while she is fine in the house both my sister and I keep waiting for Dad to appear when we are visiting there. He is so much a part of that house to both of us that we find it a little bit hard to go there.

So we’ve been talking for a while about what is next for Mother. We have talked about the following options –

  1. make an apartment out of the downstairs of her current house. Not optimal for a few reasons.
  2. move her into one of her units that she owns – which are strata title and in a block of 10, which is not optimal as Mother does not play well with others and they have tenants in there who she doesn’t want to kick out.
  3. build a house – not much land nearby and would be a delay though that is not a dealbreaker the land that is nearby hasn’t even been registered yet.
  4. buy a house or unit – most houses have larger gardens than she wants, and most units are strata title which she does not want

We’ve been watching the real estate listings locally – every night when we go to bed The Other Half and I play our wordament game challenges, then we look at the new properties listed.

I had suggested to Mother that we start going to open houses just so she can narrow down what she likes and does not like, because in all previous times Dad has mainly been the on the spot decider of what shall be bought. I’m not kidding, truly on the spot, like went to look at it put in an offer. Of course she was a part of those decisions but he was the “I like it lets get it can we put a deposit on it today” driver.

One house popped up and I liked the look of it. The house plan intrigued me somewhat, particularly the “store” area in the garage which they never show photos of.. Mother has also been keeping an eye on the real estate and she had seen it too. She told me she and Dad had been watching it be built.

The other half was going camping and Mother was due here for coffee and then to go get some groceries – I’d spotted that house was having an open. I thought Mother and I should go see it.

Now one thing you need to know about my Mother is, any idea you might present to her, she is always going to say NO first up. Doesn’t matter what the idea is. Sometimes you can talk her into a yes fairly quickly. Sometimes it will never become a yes. Sometimes you have to keep pushing but you’ll get there eventually.

Like the screen door on the front of her house – it took me ten years over a raft of objections the most crazy of which being but I love my front door and the screen door will cover it up but she eventually agreed to have one put on. And it quickly became the best thing she ever did and why on earth did she wait so long to do it? And it turns out when you open the front door to let the breeze blow through you can look at the front door like it is a piece of art and enjoy it even more.

So I suggested the idea to Mother. No no no no no NO! was her answer. That remained her answer until we had done the shopping at which point we were perfectly timed to rock up at the open inspection. And so she agreed to go and see it.

And we did see it, and it was far better than either of us had expected from the photos. Phil and Kirstie in the UK from Location Location Location always say that looking at things on the internet is fine but you have to go and see them before you can really judge and they are right. It was WOW at first sight. But Mother did not like the location.

Phil and Kirstie from Location Location Location

Me, I had already mentally moved Mother in there. The laundry was AMAZING. I’d never seen anything so light and airy and gorgeous. And now, in her house, to do laundry Mother prefers to throw it all over the railing to the first floor, then go down and pick it all up and put it in a laundry basket, then walk it to the back corner of the house. But for Mother it was a no because she didn’t like where it was. And so we left it there.

We had gleaned a few details from the real estate folks – the house was built by a builder and he was living in it. My thought was maybe we could talk to the builder and see if he was building anything like it somewhere else, or maybe he could make this same house for us in a location Mother liked. I intended to write a note to the builder.

But that house had other ideas. It kept appearing in my dreams for the next week. My sister was coming down the next weekend and by Thursday I said to Mother that maybe we should all go see the house together. She of course said no, but on the Saturday I took The Other Half, my sister and her partner who is a tradie to have a look at it. My sisters partner was incredibly impressed by it especially the attention to detail – you could tell it was built by someone who cared and wanted to make it awesome. He’s in and out of new builds constantly so he knows quality when he sees it. We were there almost the entire time it was open.

Family from Adelaide arrived later that same day. Dad’s two sisters and one of their husbands came up for a visit, the first time we’d seen them since the funeral. Mother was a bit worried, she thought the visit would be sombre. The weekend was spent laughing till we cried about all kinds of things. But no crying crying.

Still for both my sister and I, it is hard to be in that house. I keep expecting Dad to pop out of his area like he always used to. It is bizarre especially when my mind knows he is gone. Logic tells me I dressed him at the funeral home. I know I sat in the front seat of the hearse for his final ride. But my heart says he is just in the next room watching tv.

We talked about it over the weekend and I think maybe that weekend was exactly the fuel Mother needed to prepare to make a decision.

The Adelaide family left Tuesday. Wednesday the real estate called me to let me know a price guide for the house we liked. Mother and I had a “come to Jesus” meeting where we essentially decided the location was excellent, the house was exactly what she wanted and she didn’t really want to build a house.

Thursday we asked them to come and appraise her current house and put it on the market, and put in an offer for the house we liked.

Friday we began the process of sorting through her cupboards to donate the things she doesn’t want anymore. We went to Bunnings and got boxes and packing stuff. Our offer on the house was rejected. :(

Saturday we are going looking at some more places however, I feel that the rejected place is the right one. Mother did not want to raise her offer, but I feel after looking at the places tomorrow she might change her mind on that. We’ll see how it all turns out.

But how is this for crazy. Mother’s bank recently did away with all their financial advisors – she had one she really loved and trusted. All week she’s been saying to me she wished she could talk to him. He called and left a message on her phone at almost exactly the same moment she was saying how lost she felt without him.

When we called him back, turns out he had been cleaning out his messenger bag and found the bookmark Mother had sent him which we gave to everyone at Dad’s funeral, and he thought he should call her and check in. He’s starting at a new place and can be her advisor again.

Feels a bit like Dad made that happen. Can he make the rejected house happen? We shall see.

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10 thoughts on “Adventures With Mother

  1. I’m in a similar position to you except that my 90 year old mother won’t move in spite of the stairs and the big house. My brother and I live close so we can help her out with stuff, but the place is full of memories of my beloved late father. Hope you can figure out your mom’s situation to everyone’s liking. If that’s possible.

    • Margaret – have you taken her out looking at options? That was really the catalyst that set us going on this path. It was two weeks from looking to buying for us.

      I do think it will be a lot easier for us all once we sell the house. Dad loved that house so much. I opened a cupboard today and there was all his unused toiletries – he liked to stock up so he had tubes of toothpaste and deodorant when he needed them and I nearly lost it thinking he would never get to use that stuff. It is so hard. One minute you are fine, the next minute just a small thing like that and you feel like you are right back at the start of grief again. :/

  2. For a few thousand dollars she could have an staircase elevator installed, but really far more practical to move and get rid of ‘stuffs’.

    It sounds like you’ve had a pretty busy time with your mother, relatives and property hunting, never mind your own normal life.

    Good luck with how it goes.

    • Andrew – Her staircase is a weird one, it isn’t straight, it is like 3 levels. I’m not sure they make an elevator for those but even if they did, I can’t really see her sitting there while it goes up the stairs. The house deserves a big family living there and loving it as much as we have loved it.

      You can’t even get a gardener to do hedges these days – she does have a mower man but he doesn’t do hedges. The new place has almost no garden at all, just a small patch of lawn.

      It has felt like a whirlwind I can’t quite get out of – today I did a full day of work at hers packing then came back here and picked and packed my orders. I know it will calm down again – just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other till we get to the other side of it. ;)

    • Sonya – Definitely as I watched you go through that process I was taking notes knowing it was coming my way soon. ;) I love your Mom’s new place, it is just gorgeous.

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