Days before Christmas, and it was moving day

“I am rather lucky, aren't I?” she said.

December 21, 2012

McKenzie-KellyLOGONEWVANCOUVER, BC, Dec. 21, 2012/ Troy Media/ – ‘Twas just days before Christmas, when all through the apartment not a creature was stirring . . . Several people, however, were wrapping, boxing, taping and hefting. Our goal? To move my 90-year-old mother into her new home before December 25th.

Mom, bless her, is moving up. Four floors to be exact. Upon finding her seventh-floor, two-bedroom rental apartment rather confining after six years, she’s decided to branch out into a three-bedroom unit. A painter, collector and shopper, she’ll have more room for her canvasses, antiques and the those yet-to-be-used-must-have items in storage. Even more importantly, she’ll regain the stunning ocean view she’s sorely missed since moving out of the family home in 2006. While most folk would never consider moving just before Christmas, my mother is delighted; she’s waited months for the previous tenants to move out. Finally the suite is hers.

My mood is one of happy anticipation as I arrive to help out on move-in day. However, it’s quickly quenched by the site of a sadly deflated mother, an irate moving coordinator and three idle movers. There’s been an unfortunate hiccough. The new suite isn’t ready. It’s filthy. After a weekend of ‘extensive cleaning’ by the landlord, the windows, sills and walls are rimmed with dirt, the overhead kitchen fan is beyond dead, and the fridge is redolent with fish. Even more delightful, two of the five rooms have yet to get their hardwood floors refinished. The tension is palpable. One day of delay means another day of double rent.

Mercifully, a yuletide angel steps up to the plate. Anna, the coordinator of the move, volunteers to take on the truculent landlord. Mom, visibly relieved at winning an exemption from that contentious chore, perks up remarkably. We’re back up and running.

Or so we thought. Yes, the floors are quickly refinished as per Anna’s request. However, they come with an unexpected bonus. The act of sweeping was deleted from the program. Clumps of dirt and balls of hair have been left on the floor as a special, permanent treat under the now-dry sealant. No amount of scrubbing will lift them. Mom is faced with an undesirable choice. Insist on a thorough stripping or live there constantly annoyed by their presence. With Christmas on the doorstep she chooses the latter. Fortunately, throw rugs can cover the bulk of them.

The next two days whiz by in a blur. Every conceivable item, with the exception of bulky furniture, is wrapped in sheets of brown paper, then boxed and sealed in reusable sturdy cardboard boxes. Furniture is carefully placed on dollies and wheeled into the elevator. Of course, this is the week that the elevator locking mechanism refuses to work: the movers are at the random mercy of the multiple call buttons. Expecting the 11th floor, they shoot to the garage more often than not.

Mom is managing to cope rather well. While her new bedroom is set up handily on day one, the rest of the apartment is in chaos. Luckily, she is welcome to retreat to my sister’s peaceful home each night. A godsend, it’s a calming haven where she can be pampered and allowed to recharge. Quite important at any age, let alone 90.

As a result, each morning we are treated to a rejuvenated mom. An early morning person, it’s now that she spots the dimmer switch missing a cover plate, the closet door refusing to open and the kitchen cupboard missing a shelf. Anna efficiently recruits the pertinent manpower and the faults are corrected.

By the middle of day four the end is in sight. The labor force numbers have dropped from a peak of nine down to two. With the exception of her art studio, which houses the countless paintings yet to be hung throughout the apartment, most of the rooms are functional. The drapes are rehung, the wooden overhead fan installed and her computer back up and running. She’ll sleep there that night.

I’m phoned the next morning with a worried update. Her phones aren’t working well. I gently remind her that she’s much loved by all, indeed several of her fellow tenants have dropped in with pots of soup, plates of cookies and bottles of wine. There’s a pause over the now crackly phone line. ‘I am rather lucky, aren’t I?’

Indeed she is. She’s living independently on her own terms and her 90th Christmas is just days away. May we all be so blessed.

Kelly McKenzie delights in writing about the minutiae of everyday life. Widowed, mother of two active teenagers, she is awash with material.

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