A Tale of Three “Lucy”s – Lucy One
You have probably heard from several sources to plan ahead when moving. It’s never too early to start thinking about what to pack and how it will get to the new facility. This past November, I was faced with three moves at the same time. I will call my clients Lucy 1, Lucy 2 and Lucy 3.
Lucy 1 lived in an apartment on the 15th floor. The view was wonderful, the space was large. But there was this pesky little issue of persistent leaks that the property manager shrugged off as a small problem. But mold growing under the carpet for years, and several trips to the hospital were hardly small issues for my client, retired from her teaching position. It was time for a move.
Lucy 2 lived in a maintenance-free townhouse. At 89 years old, her memory was failing and she had caregivers coming every day to help her dress and eat. As her disease progressed, it became clear to the daughter that her mother needed someone watching her 24 hours/day.
Lucy 3 lived in a development specifically for residents over 55 years of age. The homes were single family, but maintenance-free. A widow, she lived there alone, but had children and grandchildren in the area to help. She was able to drive, but when her multiple sclerosis and the weather got worse, she was unable to go outside. She had to rely more and more on others, and began falling more frequently. When she fell, she couldn’t get up on her own. She decided to move to assisted living.
Over the next few posts, I will tell the stories of each of my clients and the unique challenges each faced.
Here is the story of Lucy 1:
Lucy One lived in a suburban apartment building, close to the train, shopping and many amenities. Physical limitations prevented her from enjoying most of these attractions. However, the view west from her 15th floor apartment was unobstructed and breathtaking throughout the seasons. The building had onsite laundry facilities, handicap access, handicap parking, secure access and onsite maintenance staff.
As I stated above though, the unit had one big problem – the sliding patio doors leaked, and when it rained, water came in. At first, we thought it was only during heavy rains. The water would soak the carpet and seep up upholstered furniture a good 6-8 feet into the room. After a serious health scare, Lucy had a mold inspector come in to assess the damage.
|New Kitchen Before Unpacking|
Lucy was in the hospital at the time, so I met the inspectors and gave them access to the unit. As it turned out, the problem was more extent than we imagined. Even small amounts of rain were apparently getting through the door. Mold can’t grow without moisture, and the amount present under the carpet indicated it had been there a long time. The property manager agreed to replace the carpet, but never addressed the fact that the water was still coming in. And as long as it still leaked, the mold would continue to grow. My client decided, with the help of a lawyer, to walk out of her lease.
|New Living Room Before Unpacking|
She began searching for a new apartment—farther east and closer to the lake. She wanted a view of the water now that she was retired and home all day to look out her windows. Well, she found that view, but lost many other features of her old apartment. Thus began my challenges as a move coordinator.
The new apartment was smaller, and different configurations meant furniture couldn’t be used as it was in the old place. Lucy had some tough decisions to make. What furniture/belongings would she take with her, what would she donate, and could she afford offsite storage for the rest?
She directed me from her extended stay facility. I would bring photos, and she would tell me what to do with the items. After several trips, I had marked everything that would be trashed, and packed up what would be going with. I also set aside boxes for donations. Her brother helped in this process, taking many of the larger items to the dumpster and helping with packing. He also brought some boxes to the new apartment before moving day.
|Living Room After Some Unpacking|
On moving day, the weekend before Thanksgiving, the movers arrived at my house to pick up a piece of furniture my client had had refinished. They then went to the apartment, where my client’s brother met them to supervise. The apartment and two storage lockers had to be emptied. After the truck was loaded and gone, I went to the old apartment and did a final look-through. It was not necessary to do a thorough cleaning, as the apartment was being gutted and getting a complete make-over. (Mind you, my client had been living there for 17 years, during which time the building did nothing to update the space.) But again, they were doing this with the door still leaking. Good luck to the new tenants.
I closed up the old space, checked the mail for the last time and dropped off the keys.
I didn’t go to the new apartment on moving day, but went during the week to unpack the priority boxes – kitchen, linens, etc. Lucy was still at extended stay. She moved in on Thanksgiving, and was able to enjoy a take-out dinner with her brother and his partner. There were still boxes to unpack, but at least she was in a healthy environment – no water leaks, no mold.
|Kitchen After Unpacking|
The new building and apartment presented challenges, though. There was no handicap access, no parking for visitors, small elevators, and no garbage chute. Lucy hired others to help with the unpacking. And while it is a work in progress several months later, it is looking much better! Many of the boxes still there will be emptied as the rest of the furniture comes in from the storage unit. I’ve taken in even more donations as we determine there is no home for the items in the new space. Lucy has purchased organizing systems that will make the most of the space she does have.
Yes, we are still moving things around as we figure out the best configuration for her. But that’s part of the process. This was an unexpected move. My client really had no intentions of moving at this stage of her life. Yet it was best for her health. And with proper planning and cooperation all around, it came together.