Moving Mother by Catharine Amato

Moving Mother

by Catharine Amato

{Fathers Old Trunk}

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.

{Packing Memories}

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.

{Discovering School Photos}

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.

{Coffee in the New Apartment}

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. 



19 thoughts on “Moving Mother by Catharine Amato”

  1. Hi Catharine,
    Lindsay, our daughter, showed us this website and we were really pleased to catch up on your mother’s progress.
    I am the son of your mother’s cousin, Doris Atkinson, and have recently returned from Calgary, Canada and now live in Ashbourne in Derbyshire. Your mother visited us in Canada in 1992 and Lindsay visited you in Italy around 2001.
    I have been remiss in keeping in touch with Joan and last time I phoned it just kept ringing. I was so pleased to get an update from your website.
    Please pass our good wishes onto Joan and if you let us know the address of flat where she now lives, we will try to visit her.
    We have always wanted to visit Tuscany, especially after Lindsay’s visit, and would like to meet up with you when we do so, which we hope will be in the next couple of years.
    Roy and Jan

  2. Cara Catharine, abbiamo molto apprezzato, ancora una volta, l’idea e la realizzazione del tuo lavoro, pur provando un po’ di malinconia anche per aver vissuto analoga esperienza.
    Auguriamo alla tua cara mamma, che abbiamo avuto la fortuna di conoscere, tanta serenità e buona salute.
    A te molti complimenti!

  3. Catherine,
    You know that I am in the same situation with my mother and that’s why your words and beautiful pictures touched me deep inside.
    Many greetings,

  4. Memore anche io dell’esperienza ( non così ricca, ovviamente) dei traslochi immagino quanto gratificante e ricca sia stata per Te questa settimana inglese. E mi è parso vederTi presa nello sfogliare e risfogliare le centinaia di foto, senza esagerazioni “storiche”…..
    Capisco anche il rientro in Italia con tanti pensieri e ricordi ed anche con “the inevitable anxieties about my own (hai però omesso la parola “future”) old age .
    Mi unisco ai ringraziamenti degli altri amici ed amiche e mi associo all’augurio: I hope you have many more years with her, !

  5. Mi sono commossa. I tuoi pensieri e le tue emozioni erano gli stessi che avevo dentro di me e che non ho mai avuto il coraggio di confessare. Mi sono trovata in una situazione simile quando ho svuotato la casa della mia mamma.
    Come sempre le tue foto parlano e insieme al testo rendono un omaggio di eccezionale affetto alla tua grande mamma.

  6. Suggestivo resoconto della vita eccezionale di una donna che ho avuto il piacere di conoscere e che ricordo con simpatia.
    Toccante storia raccontata per immagini con grande partecipazione.
    Brava !

  7. Wonderful pics and story.

    We’re going through the same thing with Brenda’s parents, Helen (90) and Forrest (95). Their world a shrunk to a room at Varney Crossing while the home they no longer can live in gets sorted through. I’m presently scanning photos, letters, and such that have been saved over the last century to put into a photo album for each of their three children. One thing we have learned…write on the backs of your photos…if the following generations can’t tell what the photo is about than its chances of it lasting are slim.

  8. Thank you for sharing this experience with words and image Catharine….very nice indeed. I’m off to see my mom in two weeks or so.

  9. Very though provoking. I can identify with your when you said you came home with “inevitable anxieties about my own old age” Losing my father recently (he was 91) I have been facing the same thing. I’m happy your mother is settling in to her new surroundings. I hope you have many more years with her…

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