Coming to Wesley Homes, Part 5

I need a friend by Pat King, Wesley Homes Des Moines resident In the past when it came to moving, my husband Bill was of little help. We did talk together about it, or maybe I talked and he listened. Now I missed him. I didn’t need his help, but I needed his listening. I wanted to tell him how one morning I felt upbeat about moving, the next I felt afraid again. I wanted to discuss how the condo would probably not be selling any time soon, how there was no interest in it even though the price had been reduced twice. I wanted to tell Bill how it had occurred to me that if I moved to Wesley and the condo didn’t sell in a year, I could always move back. No, no, no, that was a dreadful thought. I wanted to call someone and talk it over again, but I felt like I had imposed my concerns on friends and family enough. No one wants to hear from a whining widow who keeps vacillating. Pray about it. It seemed I had already prayed about it a whole lot, but I backed the car out of the garage and drove to the chapel in the church. Maybe I needed to pray in the Holy Presence. I knelt down. “Jesus, I’m afraid, and lonely, and unsure and worried, and I could cry. Here is what I am asking: Please be my friend. Please help me over this whole selling the condo ordeal and moving to Wesley. I want to trust You and never doubt your care. And Jesus, one more thing, and maybe this is the real struggle. Help me to not be afraid to move without Bill.” I just let it all pour out. I left the chapel and drove home slowly. I had wanted a huge “Aha” moment with flashing lights and ethereal music that told me I must go to Wesley Homes. No, that wasn’t what I had asked for (although it would have been lovely). I’d asked for Jesus to be my friend and guide and help me. Nothing changed in that prayer room, and yet everything changed. I was moving in two days. My son, David, came from California to help me get the new kitchenette in place. As we unpacked, I thought, I don’t need much in this new kitchen: not the pots, the large bowls, the Irish glasses or Bill’s favorite dishes. It really is time to live without them. My son, John, arrived with my new bed, a single – my first single bed in 62 years. “John and Dave, thank you for being so helpful to an old lady,” I said, full of gratitude. “You aren’t an old lady. You’re our mom.” Kind words are really important when one is making a life change. At 6:00 in the morning on moving day, I wrote: Today I move. It is my 78th birthday. Lord, I trust You. I believe that all things come from You in your time and in your way, that the people, places, circumstances of my life come from you for my good—even the condo not selling. At 8:00 a.m., Smokey was perched high on his lookout from the top of the china closet. The family had gathered in the kitchen, while Mary Therese and husband Mike dished out frittata, fruit, coffee and birthday cake. “Happy Birthday, dear Mom, happy birthday to you!” Fifteen of the family came, and the great move to Wesley Homes was under way. Earlier, Charles, the Move-In Coordinator at Wesley, had asked who was moving me in. “The King boys,” I’d said. “Never heard of them,” replied Charles. By the end of the day, he would well be aware of them as the family began moving my sofa, old-time dresser, computer, Lazy Boy, boxes, suitcases, lamps and chairs to the freight elevator and up to the fifth floor. After lunch, cooked by Mary Therese and Mike and served by the granddaughters, I was sent back to the condo for a nap. Smokey was so glad to see me that he jumped in my lap, and the two of us fell fast asleep. Two hours later, I put Smokey in his hated carrier, said good-bye to the condo and drove a mile to our new home. Smokey paced. Mom, where are we going? If it’s back to the vet, this time I’ll bite her for sure. When we came in the door, the family was waiting with everything in place. I opened the gate of Smokey’s carrier, and he stepped out slowly.  Where am I? It doesn’t smell like our house. My grandsons told him, “You’re home, Smokey.” The boys talked softly and tried to smooth his ruffled fur, but Smokey was not having any of it. I’m out of here. He ducked under the bed. Joe, a son who had driven up from Portland, had hooked up the computer. A gigantic basket of flowers and fruit had arrived from Dan, a son in Ireland. It was just in time. It had been hours since lunch, and the grandsons were starving. Daughter Anne had worked with the flower pots on the deck and hung up clothes. It looked like home.  Wesley offered to bring dinner to the apartment on a tray. I didn’t think they meant everyone. The boys went out for Thai. The longed-for, yet dreaded, special day was over. “Thank you, thank you,” I told everyone. I stood in the hallway as the family left one by one. I thought of my mother as she had stood in the doorway of her new retirement home. She had sobbed, “Don’t leave me!” I got ready for bed and laid down on my new bed in my new apartment in my new life. I thought of the other times I had been alone: camp or the hospital. For those times, there had been a camp counselor or friendly nurses. Bill, I miss you. Smokey, who had been prowling the apartment, jumped on the bed, stretched himself flat on my chest and rubbed his nose against mine. Did he sense my lonely feelings? Don’t worry, Mom. Everything is going to be okay. Next Thursday: Getting the Support I Need

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