ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Possessions and Memories -- An Elderly Couple Moves On

Updated on October 1, 2009

Moving into a Retirement Home Can Be a Tough Decision to Make

“Feet first,” my ninety-year-old father has said. “The only way I’m leaving this house is feet first.” I can see his point. He’s comfortably settled in the house he bought six months after he and my mother were married. Though his hearing is poor, and his steps growing slow, he knows every board, every nail, and every creak in the floor. My hope is that when it's time for him to go, he will pass quietly and in comfort -- while sitting, perhaps, in his favorite chair.

I have friends with parents my father’s age. One couple happily sold their things and moved to a retirement community, drawn in part by the social life it could provide. Another was more like my dad, expecting to stay in their home. It was difficult. Joe liked to drive, though he knew he should not. Julia worried about his forgetfulness. And they called their son for assistance about six times a day.

Their son Jack eyed the house with concern. It was full to the brim. They had filled their home with antiques and treasures, each one with a memory. “Let’s catalogue them,” I suggested. So we bought a blank book, and spent Sundays looking and writing about things that they owned.

In their eyes, a vase was never “just a vase.” Each piece had a story – a point in history from which it emerged. I learned, from these treasures, the evolution of American industry, society and ingenuity. A trunk had traveled with ancestors through Europe, then half-way across America before it became Julia' hope chest when she was 16. A little dish was once used for salt at the table. Afghans made by an aunt; pictures painted by a sister, long gone. And so, for three years, the story-telling and writing went on.

As much as we wanted them to be safe where they were, one day we knew they could not live alone. We made arrangements for them to move to a lovely retirement facility nearby. It was hard for them to leave the home they thought they'd always have. But Julia was forgetting too many things on the stove, and the time she lay outside after falling, Joe didn't even know she was gone. It was time.

“You can’t take it with you.” Never was a saying more true. How would a house full of treasures fit into an apartment? What would they keep? Could they let anything go?

The answer came when Julia handed me our book of Sundays – all she’d told me; all I’d written down. And I knew, in that moment, that they could let go. It wasn’t the items, you see, but the history and memories that were important. In passing that book, they were free to move on.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)