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Moving Day

As told to Miriam Klein Adelman

Mom refused to budge. “Behind my back you did this! I’m not a piece of garbage, you know.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

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“It’s like when the Nazis evicted us from Lodz,” she stormed. “Who would have thought my own children would do this to me?”

For three months we’d planned this move, ever since my brother Daniel walked into Mom’s apartment one afternoon to be greeted by the sulfur smell of burned eggs. He ran into the kitchen. “Ma, you left a pot on the fire and the water burned out!” The eggs had exploded. Yellow marks spotted the ceiling.

 “Oh,” she had said glancing upward. “I guess I forgot.”

It wasn’t the first time Mom had put herself in danger. Daniel called me. “That’s it,” he said, “Mom cannot live alone.”

We carefully broached the subject of moving into a place where the cooking was done for you and help was available 24/7. Mom vacillated, one day saying yes, great idea, the next day refusing to discuss it. She had no choice, we knew, so we set the date for the week after Succos. Before Yom Tov, Daniel called and said, “She’s into it. She’s ready.”

I flew in fromNew Yorkand met Daniel at the airport. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived she was not ready. While I kept her occupied in the kitchen, ostensibly arguing over whether she should move today or in two weeks, Daniel surreptitiously stripped her apartment of her belongings.

When Mom realized it was a fait accompli, she started berating Daniel. “After all I’ve done for him, he treats me like this!” (For the record, despite his busy life, Daniel visited daily and cooked and cleaned for her.) “It’s like when the Nazis evicted us fromLodz,” she stormed. “Who would have thought my own children would do this to me?”

“Mom, it’s a nice place. You told us it was getting difficult to live on your own.”

“Yes,” she admitted, “but I’m not ready yet. I need two weeks. I’ve spoken to other people who’ve done this. I need movers, I need hangers.”

All the while, Daniel was stealthily moving her bed out of the bedroom.

 

I wasn’t shocked by her reaction. Mom is a crotchety old lady and difficult to get along with at the best of times. The assisted-living facility social worker was diplomatic. Many Holocaust survivors are tough, she explained, they had to be, to survive. Add the beginnings of dementia, and the situation can turn volatile. Daniel maintains he’s developed thick skin. I’m glad I live 500 miles away. Our once-a-week phone conversations last for a scant five minutes, then I hand the phone over to my children. (I find she’s less likely to antagonize when talking to them.)

After a few hours of transferring her furniture, it was time to take Mom to the facility. But Mom refused to budge.

“Behind my back you did this! I’m not a piece of garbage, you know.” 

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