Letting Go of Childhood a Piece at a Time

“It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn’t.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Goodbye old friend.

I took a load of  – I hate to call it clutter – let’s say I took a load of personal history to Goodwill today. It needed to be done. Outgrown clothes and some Zumba hand weight thingies I won as a door prize one time. Those I won’t miss.

But my kids both sorted through their books a while back and put a stack in the give away pile. I sighed and pined as I stroked the cover of each book before putting it in the brown grocery bag. I even skimmed through a couple of them. I miss the days when the kids and I read together. Goodbye Enid Blyton. Goodbye Boxcar Children.

As hard as it was passing on the books, the real wrench came with the toy shopping cart. My husband and I gave it to our daughter for Christmas the year she was three. At the time, I had little faith in its durability. I thought she’d play with it for three or four months and then get tired of it or it would break. I’ve never before or since given anyone a gift that was such a hit. It was the first package opened, and my daughter used it the rest of the day to deliver items to people. After that, the cart often went with us to the grocery store, where my little girl would do her shopping right next to mine. It delivered our “extra mail” sometimes – pieces of scrap paper or real junk mail that I gave her so she could do her postal rounds.

When we moved from our old house to the one where we now live, my daughter was eight. We did a severe pruning of goods at that time, but the shopping cart survived the cut. My son was barely five, and he still played with it sometimes. In fact, my daughter did, too, even though she towered over it by then. After a while, nobody pushed it around anywhere, but it sat in a corner of my daughter’s room, where she used it to store craft supplies.

A couple of years ago, she decluttered her room and finally moved out the shopping cart, telling me she was ready to let go of it. So I placed it in a corner of my and my husband’s bedroom, where it remained for another two years. I kept thinking I couldn’t give it to just anyone. I was waiting for the right child to come along. I wanted to know who got it and perhaps see them play with it. But that never happened.

This morning I stopped kidding myself. Since I was taking several things to Goodwill anyway, I knew I needed to include the cart. My daughter is 17, for goodness sake. It’s time for some other child to discover it and get some joy from it, even if I never know who that child is. I had to dab a tear as I put the shopping cart in the back of my van. I know for the next year or two, I’ll keep my eyes open at the grocery store, hoping to see some little kid pushing a blue and pink cart down the aisles.

Trying to Be Home for the Holidays

Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Not to panic anyone. My oldest brother and his wife will be coming in from out of state, and we will bring my mom out from the nursing home for part of the day. It should be great. I’m looking forward to it. There’s only one slight major problem: accessibility.

Front entrance to our house.
A different view of the front entrance












We also have a side door, but once you step inside it, you immediately have to go up stairs to get to the main level. And our parking area is behind the house. What we really need is a back door.

We could use a back door, about here.










And a wheelchair ramp from the there to where we park.

We could use a ramp along here.










So we’re having it done. Dispensing with our usual do-it-yourself mode that can make projects stretch out for months, we’re hiring a contractor my husband knows to put in a back door and build a ramp. He says he can have it done in plenty of time for Thanksgiving.

Putting aside my anxiety dreams about Thanksgiving arriving to find a half-finished project and unusable guest room in a still-inaccessible house because something’s sure to go wrong, we have to pay for this thing. Since the contractor is a friend, we’re getting a good price, but I’ve discovered nobody wants to loan you $4,500. They’ll happily loan us ten times that much, however. It’s crazy.

So we’re refinancing the whole shebang, trading in our old mortgage and rolling the cost of the project into a new one. Man alive, has that meant a lot of form filling out and information tracking down.The good news is how much interest rates have dropped. Our payments will be a lot lower.

The construction materials should arrive Friday, and work begins next week. We’ve talked about making the house accessible since we moved in nine years ago, but it’s never risen to the top of the to-do list until now. I’m happy to know we’ll have an ADA compliant entrance.

Oh, about the back room where the door is going – I mentioned it’s our guest bedroom. My son helped me move out the furniture already. It’s scattered in other places throughout the house. There’s a tight squeeze to get to my home office at the moment, but I can still make it.

Temporary bed storage

Chutes and Ladders

Dealing with Social Security and Medicare is like playing Chutes and Ladders, except with extra chutes and no ladders. You move along the spaces thinking you’re getting somewhere and then you land on the chute that takes you back to the beginning.

After many spins of the spinner when my mom first moved to town, we were told verbally that her address had been changed with Social Security. I assumed this was true because her checks starting showing up in the bank account I opened for her here. But then I discovered Mom’s Medicare statements were still being mailed to my sister in Ohio, where my mom had lived previously. Not only that, but Medicare is changing her prescription drug plan and it’s based on her Ohio address.

After working through several layers of sub-menus and many minutes on hold, I managed to talk to a live person at Medicare who required me to answer about a dozen questions before she was authorized to tell me she could do nothing for me. They get all changes of address from Social Security and they’ve never received one for my mom. Also, she couldn’t tell me what prescription drug plans are available in Missouri. I’ll have to call back between October 15 and November 15 for that information.

So I called Social Security and found out that, nope, they have no record of an address change, after the same sub-menus/dozen questions journey. But they do have it changed now. The guy promised me.

We’ll see if I hit the top of another chute on October 15.

Did I mention my mom got a jury summons? This actually made me laugh. The fun never ends.