by Kevin Burton
I went literary on you last Friday. Hope that was OK.
I wrote about my mother moving to an assisted living facility and the parallels for that move and my move to the Ohio State School for the Blind as a fourth grader in 1972 (“Love, Tears And Doing The Right Thing,” July 16).
Just in case anything got lost in translation I will spell it out more and more plainly today.
My mother had reached the point where she needed the constant assistance available through an assisted living facility. Everybody knew that, but it was really the timing of God shown through circumstances that made it all happen so quickly.
The owner of the house mom was renting decided to sell the house, and heartlessly gave her only five weeks to move out. My brother successfully argued for another three weeks.
In that time, the family had to find mom a new place to live and deal with, one way or another, a lifetime of furniture, appliances, books and keepsakes.
We were dealing with cherished memories, but on someone else’s schedule.
Because we were seeking assisted living, not just a normal rental, we had to quick, quick become familiar with government terms and rules and assess the relative merits of different facilities.
The deadline, though unreasonable, was in the end helpful to me. If it weren’t for that time pressure I would not have seen the urgency of assisted living for mom. My heart sees her as young, physically able and independent, despite what I see playing out before me.
Does your heart do that?
Mom did not want to make the move. I didn’t want her to either, for her sake and because it meant I could no longer walk to her place.
But we all placed her physical safety first. It was high time for the move. The actual moving day was Thursday.
My moving day was in September of 1972. Apparently toward the end of my third grade year At Mills Lawn Elementary School in Yellow Springs, Ohio, something happened that upset my mother. I don’t remember it and that’s unusual.
What I remember about Mills Lawn was drafting. The teachers didn’t hold me to the same expectations as the other kids. My Mom says they didn’t understand me.
Somehow I had never asked my mother about what went into the decision to send me to the blind school until I asked Monday. She said there an ongoing discussion between with my father.
“We talked about it and I finally agreed it was best,” Mom said, “but I didn’t want to do it. Overall it was the best thing to do.”
Mom said my father was the one who talked to the people at the blind school. I seem to remember going to the school for a visit before enrolling there. Mom didn’t remember that.
“The main thing I remember is leaving away from the school and crying,” Mom said. “I will never forget that.
Mom said family wasn’t allowed to visit me for two weeks. I don’t remember that. She said she can see the reasoning behind it.
The similarities of the two moves hit me a few weeks ago. She and I both needed help we weren’t getting.
As we looked for different living arrangements for Mom, nothing made sense except assisted living. I am sure my parents drew the same conclusion about sending me 48 miles away to the blind school.
In my case, my life blossomed. I am praying for a similar happy result for my mother.
“I can remember you slowly getting used to the place, not minding going back,” on Sundays after a weekend visit home, Mom recalled.
There wouldn’t have been any prayer behind the 1972 decision, though God obviously had His hand in it. There has been lots of prayer this spring about Mom’s new home.
I didn’t embrace the blind school right away and neither is my mother having an easy time of it in assisted living. The facility lied to our family about something significant I won’t go into, yet, in this setting.
I am praying we can wrestle down those issues and our own emotions, and get on with the business of living.
Mom has already begun witnessing to the maintenance staff. That’s a start.