On day two of The Move (90 year-old-parents relocating from Florida to Pittsburgh to live with daughter), the movers arrived and my Mother in Law (MIL) – who really did not want to move – declared she was sick. Her stomach hurt. She had pains in her back like she had with the shingles. She complained to everyone who called. She refused to get out of bed, effectively blocking the movers from the master bedroom furniture.
There wasn’t anything I could do about her resistance, so I kept moving forward. My Father in Law (FIL) and I walked the house, pointed out what went and what stayed, and they started moving things out.
“What about the kitchen?” The leader asked.
“We’ve packed everything we want from the kitchen,” my FIL replied. “You don’t need to do anything in here.”
Then, as soon as the movers had moved on, my FIL started looking for a box for the rice cooker. I packed it for him and he carefully labeled it, “Basement, storage, fragile.” The rice cooker. That they use every day. I realized that every box he packed he labeled “Basement, storage, fragile.”
Soon the movers needed to get into the master bedroom. They couldn’t wait any longer. But it was actually perfect timing because my MIL had, without any of us knowing, called her doctor and made a 1 pm appointment for that day. All my FIL had to do was drive her there and, of course, stay with her. That left the master bedroom open for the movers.
As soon as they left, I scooped the detritus from their bedside tables into a box and carried it into the kitchen. Then I stripped the bed, and set aside the pillows and sheets, instructing three of the movers not to take them because we needed to use them for the rest of the week. They whisked out the bedroom furniture and, by the time my in-laws returned with a positive report from the doctor, the house was mostly packed. (Later we discovered too mostly packed. A fourth mover had snuck into the bedroom after the rest of us had moved on to another room and very efficiently packed the sheets and pillow cases. Oops. Well, if that was the worst that happened…)
I set my FIL down in front of the boxes from the bedside table and told him what they contained. He nodded with great understanding, “Oh, yes.” And while my back was turned, added some old placemats that should have been thrown away, and a box of Kleenex, labeled the box “Fragile, Basement Storage” and sent it off in the moving van. Meanwhile I was scooping up things like address books that should go with us in the car, and piling them carefully to one side. The movers needed me in the garage. When I returned, they had been packed “Fragile, Basement Storage” and sent off the truck.
Then my MIL got into the game and started pulling fake flowers off the lanai. “These must go,” she said, “They’re brand new.” Or “They’re the first flowers I bought for the house.” Or “They’re my favorite.” She kept placing them on the pile of boxes to go to the truck. The movers kept shrugging and tossing them back on the lanai.
Between my MIL and me, my FIL was getting pretty overwhelmed. He kept answering me in Tagalog – his native language which I do not speak. I could see he was pretty stressed out. When the movers had finished, I distracted my MIL while my FIL inspected the van and signed the paperwork.
When the van left, I ordered pizza. “I feel like having a little wine to celebrate,” my FIL announced. We had packed the wine on the floor of the backseat of his car, piled boxes of precious items on top of it, and strapped in with rope.
We didn’t have wine.
The day ended with us all going to bed early. We had survived the movers. If we had stopped to argue or to change direction, we might not have finished. Sometimes you just have to stay on the highway and not stop for roadside attractions.
Here endeth the second lesson.