by Catharine Amato
My mother has moved many times in her life, crossing oceans, war zones and continents. She has survived tragedies and losses with an indomitable spirit. Last year I helped her with perhaps the most challenging move of her life.
At the age of 92, having stopped driving two years earlier, she began to feel isolated in her bungalow on the edge of town. Several months of consideration and changes of mind brought her to the decision to move into sheltered accommodation.
Thanks to a US company, there is a splendid “Retirement Residence” in her next door town. Independent and dignified living for the elderly, each with their own self contained flat.
Although I live in Italy and she in the UK, I have always been very close to my mother. Perhaps because I am the youngest of her children, born a few months after my father was killed in a terrorist attack. So I flew to the UK for a week to help out.
Physically it was a tiring week, but also a time for recollection and reflection. The material objects that came to light during the sorting and packing (and unpacking) brought memories and emotions with them.
Hundrerds of photos spanning over a century of family travels and events, great great grandparents’ marriage and death certificates on yellowing parchment and a treasure trove, in an old writing case, of letters, brochures and documents from my parents’ wedding and honeymoon in 1938.
I came home to Italy with so many thoughts and memories and the inevitable anxieties about my own old age and all that it could mean, with the role reversal of parent and child towards life’s end. A year on, my mother has settled in and is enjoying the comfort and security of her new home.