Operation Safety Net: Day 1 Debrief

Yesterday, my brothers visited my parents and let them know they were in town to help them make the transition to the retirement community and set up driving services.

They were a little concerned because only my dad got a letter revoking his license. Our assumption was that both licenses would have been revoked before they arrive. We talked through the strategy to arrive and share with my parents why they are in town. Before they leave, my brother calls to confirm my parents’ location and let them know they are arriving in about 20 minutes. While they are on the phone my mom tells him she got her revocation letter a few days ago. The last possible and logical road block has been removed.

My brothers arrive at my parents’ townhouse and tell them they are there to take the car keys and help them move to the retirement community. My parents are very compliant and they help them gather some personal items and plants and drive them to their retirement apartment. They return and disable both cars and collect all the car keys.

One brother came prepared and had printed out signs they could post on the steering wheels and by the garage door opener to call him if they need a ride.

They spend more than 7 hours with them helping them make this transition. They stay and eat dinner together and take them to the townhouse. It’s unsaid, but we all believe this will be their final night sleeping there. My brothers tell them they will return in the morning and take them out for breakfast.

The next morning, over breakfast, my oldest brother asks if my parents could recall why they were visiting and what was going to happen today. Our father was silent and my mom had some sarcastic response. Neither could, or would, state they had lost their licenses and insurance and were being moved by their children into their retirement community apartment full-time. It’s difficult to really know what they are thinking – do they not know, are unable to verbalize what’s happening, or are they silently planning how to undo what’s happening?

After breakfast they all go back to the townhouse to pack up any additional items to move. My mom starts to negotiate and state reasons why they need another day in their townhouse. She tells my brothers she has some framing business clients and needs to be there to finish the jobs. They nibble on her request and ask her to show them what she’s working on. They go to her framing room and she fumbles around and is unable to produce any projects. A sense of sadness fills the room.

After two hours of packing, tinkering and conversation, they get in the car and drive to the retirement community. After moving and unpacking the boxes into their apartment, they go down to lunch in the retirement community dining room. My brothers have built-in windows of social visit time through each day. After lunch, they return and finish up by hanging pictures and sorting medications. Before they leave, they ask my parents if they need anything and they say no. My brothers ask my parents to write down anything they forgot or need and they will be back in the morning to help get it for them.

Before leaving, one of my brothers puts signs in their apartment to remind them they no longer have a car and how to call him to get a ride. Within 20 minutes of leaving, my mom calls my sister telling her that my brothers have taken the cars from them and they are now stranded at the retirement community.

We had been expecting this could happen. When my sister was here and we communicated our concerns, my mom would rebuff our suggestions saying my brothers weren’t here and she wanted their opinion before she could consider our recommendations. My sister reaffirms that she is aware of what has happened and suggests that my mom make a list of the reasons or items she needs — the boys would be back to help. She has nothing more to say to my sister and the call ends.

My brothers admit they feel a mild sense of dread. They sense an emotional storm is brewing in my parents as the reality of the situation takes hold. We knew this would be hard. We expect it to only get harder as our joint resolve to transition them full-time to the retirement community collides with their will to maintain their independence. Troubled.

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