As I alluded to in my last post, my weekend was pretty dismal. The time had finally come to pack up my Aunt’s apartment and put it into storage. My sister Lisa flew in from Texas, and Alan and I were set to meet her on Saturday morning. We’d pick her up from her friend’s house in Carlsbad and we’d all drive down, pick up the U-Haul truck, and then spend the day packing up her apartment and take it to a storage facility. Alan and I planned to take a run in the morning, then pack up and head south. The run didn’t happen, and we didn’t get going until about 9:00. Meaning we picked up Lisa at noon. A little later than planned, especially considering that Alan’s one caveat was to watch the 49er’s playoff game at 5:00.
My Aunt Lois, who I wrote a little about here, suffers from a brain injury incurred about 25 years ago in a car accident. Several months ago she fell in the shower, where she lay for more than a day before anybody found her and called for help. She has been declining since then and will never be able to live on her own again. So, we had to pack up her apartment. My sons were not available to help,which meant it was my sister, my husband, and myself doing the work.
We had quite a task ahead of us. She had been in her apartment for about 10 years, but because of the problems caused by the brain injury she really just inhabited it. Many things were still in boxes from her last move (which was helpful for us, but still sad). There was a large area of her front room that was loaded with boxes, unused furniture, old pictures, sheet music, records, and a piano. None of it had been touched, all of it was heavily coated with dust.
So with face masks in place the three of us spent the next several hours packing, loading, sorting, and tossing my aunts possessions. It was hard work and it was very sad. Her walls were covered with pictures of animals. She was an animal advocate and vegan, every spare penny she had she donated to organizations like Peta, Farm Sanctuary, and others, and in return they all sent her cards, posters, calendars, and magazines. She kept it all, decorating her refrigerator, walls, and windows. She also kept journals, writing paragraphs almost every day to express her anger, frustration, and hopelessness.
Lisa and I sorted through all of this as we packed, while Alan managed most of the loading. Neighbors stopped by as we were working to ask about our Aunt, they were saddened to hear she wasn’t doing well. After three hours we had accomplished a lot and it was time to stop for the day. We still had a lot of work to do on Sunday though, so we decided that we’d pick up Lisa at her friend’s house in Carlsbad at 7:00 am. So much for the running plans.
We left Lisa at the apartment to be picked up by her friend. I planned to drive Alan over to my son’s house so he would be in time for the 49er’s playoff game. Then I’d head to the store, pick up a lock we needed for the U-haul, plus some food (and wine for me). As we drove away, we realized that we hadn’t had a bite to eat since leaving La Quinta early in the morning. Suddenly starving, I added a Subway stop into the plans, dropped his sandwich off before I headed back to my aunt’s. Lisa had already left, so I pulled up behind the truck, locked it up, then headed back to my son’s. Fortunately, San Diego is a pretty small city, and in light traffic, my aunt’s house is only about 10 minutes from my son’s, so it wasn’t difficult. I finally finished, got back to my son’s, ate my sandwich, and relaxed. Oh, did I mention I got to hold, feed, and snuggle my grandson? Oh yes!
After the game, which the 49er’s won, improving Alan’s weekend, we drove back to Encinitas to check in to our hotel. It was almost 10:00 by the time we got into bed. I slept poorly, one of those nights that seem to last forever because you keep waking up, leaving me tired and cloudy in the morning. Fortunately, neither of us felt any back pain from our work the day before. As we checked out, I grabbed a bagel from the breakfast room, we stopped by Starbucks and started off on our day.
Because we needed to meet the storage people by 11:00 and get the truck back by 1:00, we didn’t waste any time. We finished the loading in record time, leaving a few items that might have some value, her piano, a few antiques, behind for possible sale. Truck packed, we dashed to the storage place, where we discovered that it was the indoor type of storage, meaning that we had to load everything onto a dolly, take the elevator to the third floor and unload it there. The nice thing about those type of storage facilities is that they are climate controlled and secure. Just a lot of work to load.
Faced with a 7′ x 10′ area, we were concerned that our truckload wouldn’t fit, but using some great stacking and jigsaw skills that we didn’t even know we had, we managed to get it all in with no room to spare. Still, it was close to 2:00 when we headed back to drop off the truck. We arrived late, but they had closed for the day so we left the truck and slipped the keys in the drop off box, not sure if they would charge for an extra day. Considering this is a company that will charge you $25 if you don’t sweep out the truck, I am not optimistic.
This time I insisted that we take the time to eat before we did anything else. We stopped by Subway again, then headed over to my son’s where my sister finally met my grandson for the first time.
It is that small things that make all the tough things worthwhile.
Time passed much too quickly. Soon we had to leave again, first to pick up a rental car for Lisa, then to meet a man who would look at my aunt’s antiques. The piano is huge, built in 1940, what they call a box grand, quite unique, but without a big demand. Lisa called several antique shops and no one was interested. She finally found a man who provides props for movie and theater productions. He took a look and promised to get back to us in a day or so.
By the time Alan and I headed home, it was after 6:00, with a three hour drive ahead of us. We were exhausted, sore (but not too bad all things considered), and just wanted to be home. I had to work at 5:30 on Monday morning, but I insisted that we stop halfway home for dinner. I was tired of surviving on Subway. We recently discovered a little restaurant called the Earth Bistro, which has vegan and vegetarian options. Yes, I had another sandwich, but at least it wasn’t from Subway.
It was just a very sad, depressing weekend. Running helps me work off my stress, so having no time to run left me feeling more anxious. I am so grateful that I was with my husband and my sister, that we were able to support each other and share the burden of the weekend. I feel for my sister, who is staying in San Diego for the week, dealing with some business for my aunt. She reported today that my aunt is doing very poorly, not eating, and too weak to even sign her name. She has not been eating, and so is very weak. She has said for a long time that she wanted to die. It looks like she may finally get her wish.
As I try to remember the funny, edgy woman of 25 years ago, who was an actress and a singer, who was smart, successful, and happy, my heart breaks a little thinking about the woman after the accident. I love you Aunt Lois, I hope that soon you will be back with the pets that you loved, with your big sister, my mom, who took care of you, where your brain will finally be normal again, and you can be happy.