Monday, September 6, 2010

A real charmer

I spent the Labor Day weekend helping my mom move from Wembley Place, her condo, to The Lodge, a independent senior retirement apartment complex. Wembley is on the market, though inventory is moving rather slowly these days, thanks to the economy. And in this case, I do give a heartfelt "Thanks." I need the time to let changes like this sink in.

No pictures this time. It's just a tad too bittersweet, thinking of leaving her little patio garden that the Wonderfully Patient Spouse and I helped mom install two Mother's Days ago. And her light, bright kitchen. And her cozy gas fireplace.

"I am, after all, almost 86-years-old," she told me as we drove toward the light rail Monday morning. "Things happen at my age, and when they do, they happen fast. I think it's time I should be in a more organized community." I know. I do appreciate her vision and her sense of adventure at this point, moving into a community where she really doesn't know a soul. But still. I'll miss Wembley.

She bought her little condo cottage three years ago, about three months after my stepdad died. It was a happy homecoming, a fine piece of serendipity, it falling back into her lap the way it did. She had actually owned the property once before -- about 20 years earlier right after she and my dad divorced. And it's right around the corner from the place she and Frank, my stepdad, owned together so she re-inherited a whole cadre of friendly, familiar neighbors.

The Lodge is nice. Her apartment sizeable, and the residents remarkably active and congenial. I lost track of the number of folks who came up and introduced themselves throughout the weekend. And much of her regular bridge-playing posse lives right across the way at another retirement complex, Creekside. I have no doubt my mom will get right into the swing of things.

But still.

I'll miss Wembley. Things like her little patio where Ben, our dog, has been so content to quietly (well, except for the time he growled at the mayor of Beaverton) spread out and observe the comings and goings of her neighborhood. That little squishy toy hanging suspended from the garage ceiling to remind us all we've pulled in far enough. The community pool, where both boys lived when they were younger.

I can still hear the final, lingering notes of "Edelweis," which we sang after dinner, in perfect harmony, with the Hakamatas -- our soon-to-be daughter-in-law's family from Japan. It truly was a vision to hear and behold. And one of the most memorable of many happy meals we shared in her dining room.

By mid-afternoon Sunday, I had cleared out about all I possibly could. It was time to lock up the condo and head back to The Lodge with that final load. But instead, I popped open a Mirror Pond (hey, it was that or a jar of Nutella -- the last two things standing in the fridge) and walked through each room one last time, slowly sipping my beer and remembering what a good home it's been -- for mom and for my family, too.

Thanks, mom.

Thanks, Wembley.

You're both real charmers.

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