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The Big Move

Survival of the Fittest

You're packed up and ready to go. But is your new home ready?

As moving day approached, we engaged in our usual rituals, knowing in the back of our minds that it would be our last day for all of us to live in my parents' home of 28 years. Even though I would be creating a home base in their house after they moved out, it would not be the same. Similar, maybe—but not the same.

The smallest details stood out to me: There was the nighttime treat for Jackson taken from the red tin that always sits on the kitchen counter near the sink. The turning off of all the lights in the same places they had been for 28 years. Dad adjusting the thermostats to a cooler nighttime temperature, asking at what temperature I wanted my thermostat set. Dad reading to Mom before the lights went out—a time when I like to join them, as that's when we've seemed to have our most significant conversations.

I told them I honestly had some fears and doubts about this move, and I asked about theirs. We talked about all the moves they'd made in their lifetime together, and the fact that even in their younger years, they had never lived in an apartment building. They'd moved many times—to Indiana, Ohio, Germany, Virginia—for jobs and military deployment and education. But this move was different. It signaled a different kind of change in their lives. They so impressed me with their willingness to embrace change, fears and all.

I had fears, too, that it would all be so different in the new apartment. Could we reinvent the spirit of my parents' home?

I went to sleep that night knowing that it would be the last time in that house that I would do so with the secure understanding that Mom and Dad were just across the house in their usual place. All my life, that had given me a sense that all was right with the world.

I relived countless family gatherings at the house. I thought of the times my parents comforted our broken hearts, celebrated our triumphs, and provided a safe place for us, their children and grandchildren. Even at the ripe old age of 48, I've still found comfort in knowing my parents are there and things are "the same." I thought about how brave they are to make this move—how it could make their lives much better, or much more complicated, or possibly even worse. I hoped for the best.

Stuffing Lives Into a Moving Truck

I got my wish! The moving day high was a balmy 100 degrees. The movers arrived at 8 a.m. We drank coffee, pointed out what to load, and watched the nostalgia go out the door. Dad took Jackson for his last walk around the neighborhood, and although he hid it well, I could tell he was a little choked up. He's taken thousands of dog walks in this neighborhood over the years.

At the last minute, Dad realized he hadn't told the neighbors they were moving. We visited with Joey, the next-door neighbor, whom my parents had watched grow up from the time he was a toddler. He's now a mature college student. We said our good-byes—while reassuring the neighbors that my parents would be back, since I would be setting up housekeeping in their home.

By noon, the truck was loaded. It's always amazing to me that a life can be loaded into a truck in a matter of hours. "Push-pull, click-click," my dad said; everything went like clockwork, perfectly as planned.

Until we arrived at the apartment.

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