It has been a rather odd month.
As the contact person for my only aunt, who estranged herself in violent fashion from the rest of the family more than 30 years ago--it has been a month of changes.
I won't focus on past history--but the present has involved transitioning my aunt from living alone in a condo to a hospital to her choice of location for skilled care to the added umbrella of hospice care. This is uncharted territory for her certainly--and also for me as I am learning what insurance pays for what (or more accurately who doesn't pay for what) and what it means to be a power of attorney for healthcare and finances. I have toured cemeteries, talked to funeral homes, learned terminology of social workers, interviewed carpet cleaners and housecleaners, met condo neighbors who are friendly folk that Aunt had no use for and learned that if you have rust on a car's rocker panel--you don't get quite as much resale value. A very odd month.
As an antique dealer and Lover of Most Things Vintage--I have spent time poking through closets and dresser drawers and basement shelves to sort and toss out and recycle and bring home. Closets and drawers that do not belong to me--that show snippets and pieces of a life of a lady who chose to be alone and I used to know as my aunt.
The pieces of one's life. A vintage coat from stylish working girl days in the 1960s. A passport from a European vacation. Anniversary pins for years of working service. Pictures and notes from boyfriends who ended up on the large heap of discarded friends. Boxes of slides from happier days at a family summer home. Finding some special family pieces I have not seen in decades and will be glad to have in our home and will share with my mother, my aunt's only sister--one of those people on that heap of people who were meaningful once, and the cloud of emotional and mental issues easily discarded.
Aunt will need every dime I can find to attend to her care for her end days. She is in an attractive care center, in a private room, with clean clothes and warm food and people who call her by name and smile when they see her. Thank God.
In the meantime--every closet, drawer and shelf contains many items that will be donated to good homes--as well as bits of my childhood memories with Aunt--who took me to my first circus, got me my first egg mcMuffin and let me use her yellow convertible one summer to drive to my summer job.
Navigating old age is an adventure--and not for the faint of heart.
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