Don't get me wrong, she's not in a cardboard box in the park drinking Special Brew out of a paper bag, I'm not a completely evil offspring. But there are quite a lot of cardboard boxes (thankfully not containing Mother) in storage while she stays with us until her new home is ready. She's living out of more than a few suitcases, not really knowing when the big moving day might be. Because solicitors and estate agents take forever and lets face it, if you charge people for you to open an envelope you're on to a winner and I guess you don't have to rush too much?? (Apologies for any estate agents / solicitors reading but come on guys??!)
It all started a few months ago. Mum mentioned she'd quite like to move house. The home she'd been in for a few years had a lot of steps and being sensible / planning for the future and all that it was decided it was time for a change. We thrashed out a few options on nearby towns and villages to where she was living and I popped over one day to help in the best way I know how - making lists. Pros and cons of this and that town, the choice between a bungalow or flat, terrace or detached, or whether she even liked the look of it or not. (Quite a few were discounted on this alone. "Ugly house", "Not with those windows")
Several coffees later and we ended up with not many pros. One was perfect on paper but in the wrong location. One had no parking, handy for the shops mind and one was in the perfect spot but just needed too much work. Short of getting Phil and Kirstie on speed dial this was going to prove tricky.
Then I asked a question which up until then genuinely hadn't popped into either of our minds.
"Would you ever consider moving nearer to us?"
Now, we live and have lived a good hours journey from Mum for the last 12 years. It's been a ridiculous 22 years since I officially flew the nest (bar a brief few months in my mid twenties when everything went spectacularly wrong and I too was slightly homeless for a while but that's another story....) So Mum and I don't get to see each other as much as we'd like to and the cogs started turning in our heads. Turns out this fleeting idea had legs and boy did we begin to run.
A new Right Move search was started, new lists written and viewings made. Not particularly easy when one of you lives 50 miles away and couldn't always come to the appointments so it was left to me to channel my inner "Lucy" from Homes under the Hammer and cast my beady eye over some nice but also some absolute horrors of flats and apartments. One in particular stank so badly the second I walked in I turned around and retreated pretty quick, knowing that this one had no hopes of making any of the lists. Apart from maybe a condemned one.
Finally we found the one. One that we both managed to make the viewing for, one that ticked all the boxes and one that left Mum actually excited rather than the standard previous responses of "it's nice but....." An offer was made and accepted and the wheels of stress and excitement were set in motion.
And in true form with moving house (seriously, why is it so hard??!) those wheels slowed down a bit, a lot, to the point where the moving dates absolutely did not align and we created "homeless Mother". Oops. As if I haven't put her through enough, like the time I decided to shred the new shower curtain with a pair of scissors when I was about 6. Or the time I dyed my hair jet black and went through the goth stage at 15. Or the time I had a house party when they were on holiday and the police were called. Sorry Mum.
It only dawned on me the total enormity of the situation when I was on my way down to her last week to help her move and bring her up here. She's lived in that area for 37 years. Settled her family and two year old daughter who started playgroup, then to the local school. Made so many friends at local clubs, worked bloody hard to make sure I could have the latest stupid craze or attend yet another extra curricular activity I would no doubt be rubbish at. (I'm looking at you saxophone lessons...) Then she retired and started living a new life of travelling, making new friends and became a Grandma (and a bloody great one at that.) Looking out of the train window before it pulled into my old home town I felt emotional, realising I hadn't just asked if she'd ever consider spending more time with us. I'd asked her to start again.
And like the absolute star she is, she wanted to. She gets the chance to see her Grandson grow up, to come to sports day and do all the nice things Grandma's do (like feed them biscuits and then sit back and watch the sugar rush.) The excitement I think outweighs the stress so far, though get back to me in another week or so for updates on that one....
After we dropped her keys to the agents and started the journey to her new home town we took a detour. To the cemetery. I had to pop in and let my Dad know that she's with me now, his girls are looking after each other.
And look after each other we will. Welcome home Mum. x