The Move – Postscript: They’re Not My Buttons

Final day of The Move (90 year-old-parents relocating from Florida to Pittsburgh to live with daughter), Saturday, my Father in Law (FIL) and I unloaded the car and walked their basement apartment in the morning, talking about where things should go. “She’s got to decide,” he said with a rueful laugh. “She’s the organizer.” But my Mother in Law (MIL) wouldn’t come downstairs until after lunch, which we had at 3 pm, owing to a number of much-needed naps that we each took.

It took her 10 minutes to come down the stairs. At the bottom, she turned into the bedroom, and walked through it, not really seeing it, then out the French doors into the living room, back around to the stairs, then back into the bedroom, without a word. I worried that her regrets would return, she’d direct her husband to repack the car and we’d be in for a fight.

Then she walked through the bedroom again and back into the living room. “This is HUGE,” she announced with surprised grin. “I could hire a band, have a party!”

About 10 years dropped from her husband’s face and a hundred pounds from his shoulders.

“I didn’t remember it being so big,” she continued. “And everyone kept telling me not to pack so much, I thought it must be tiny.”

I grabbed a pen and paper and we made a list of things she needed, and marked out where she wanted the furniture to go. I redirected a number of treasures that she had been considering placing upstairs back to the basement and suggested a few small changes that would make it easier for her to navigate.

Mission accomplished.

My Sister in Law and her family returned home that night to happy, relaxed parents, a dressed table and hot food. She took me aside and thanked me, remarking that she didn’t know how I stayed so calm.

I was reminded of a comment that a friend once made. I had been complaining about how my own mother made me so mad, pushing my buttons. “Of course,” she laughed. “She’s your mother, she installed those buttons. And you don’t install a button unless you plan to push it.”

Although I’ve been an in-law in this family for over 30 years, my in-laws haven’t installed any buttons on me. So I was the right person to make this journey because they could push all the buttons they want – that’s what we do when we’re stressed out, we push buttons – and they wouldn’t set me off.

Here endeth the series.

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