A place to lay your head

Between last fall and this spring, I helped 3 people move.  Each was a different situation, and each gave me things to reflect on.

First, the good thing: I got new furniture and decor out of the deal, but I earned it.  So there ya have it.  The selfish end of things.

The first move was last November for my sister who moved to her own place for only the second time in her then 47 years.  The other time was a good ten years ago and only for a year.  She has personal things to cope with that I won’t go into for the sake of her privacy, but she lived with my parents in an apartment at the time of the move.  It was a big step to go out on her own.

The first time she went on her own, she was urged to do so by those around her, but she wasn’t really prepared for it, nor did she really want to go.  This time, it was her choice and desire to have a life of her own as we watch our parents advance in years.  They won’t always be here.

It was a triumphant and encouraging event, and I was very glad to help. I gave my sister things I wasn’t using and I call her and try to encourage her as much as possible.

The next move was my parents in January, precipitated purely by financial needs.  My dad was 83 at the time, 84 now, and my mom is 76.  My mother has arthritis – spina stinosis. Her back, knees and leg make it hard to be on her feet for long.  My dad is in remarkable shape for an 84 year old, but he did have heart surgery more than ten years ago, and he is definitely slowing down.  Fortunately, they belong to a church whose members helped them tremendously.  I helped as much as I could after work and on the weekends getting ready for the move.  The day of the actual move, the good church folks had the majority of the work done by the time I got there after work.  There were still quite a few more trips with the minivan that evening and subsequent days, but the big stuff was moved and most of the furniture even in place.

It was great that they had good help since neither my mom nor my dad wanted to make the move from the comfortable apartment they really liked where they had become friends with the landlords and their toddler son.  With my sister in her own place by this time, they were adapting to an empty nest for only the second time since a year and a day after their wedding.

So when I go there, I feel somewhat at ease that they have adapted to their surroundings, but the place is so small.  So very small.  I can’t help think about all the wealthy estates with so many rooms, they never even set foot in some of them and have amenities they never use.  Nevertheless, my parents have all they need and all they can really take care of at this point.

The final move was my cousin who had to move from the house his grandfather built and his mother grew up in, which he lived in for the past 22 years.  The move was forced by his siblings wanting to sell the family home out from under him.  Fortunately, he was able to move in with his fiancee at her apartment.  But, as with my parents, it was a downsizing.  He put many items to auction and gave a lot to my brother and me who helped him with the move.  That worked out well for us.  Indeed, we made out well between the things my parents couldn’t keep and the things my cousin couldn’t keep.

I reflect on all this in my own home that I share with my brother and love very much.  It’s 100 years old this year.  We’ve done a lot of personalizing and improvements.  One thing we didn’t have to do, because it was already here, was to install a deck.  It was a major selling point with a great view of Bethlehem.  I am so thankful for everything I have and for a loving family.  I would do anything for them.

I still wish my parents had a little more room, but we all have what we need: a place to lay your head.



My experiences at Family Dollar

I meet a lot of interesting people at my job as an assistant manager at Family Dollar.  I see people from all walks of life.  I see good people and bad.  It’s an interesting study of humanity.

Right now, I’d like to share with you about a young man named Ken.  He always comes in with his mother.  A short gray haired thin woman.  She wears her wrinkles with a quiet dignity, never letting the tiredness I see in her face dampen her spirits.  Ken does everything with her.  He’s told me how she always beats him at pool.   I can tell by her facial expressions that she sometimes gets annoyed at Ken’s overshadowing her, as she is quiet and private and he is loud and shares everything. He calls me Slim Shady when I have my hair dyed blond in the summer.  He teases me that it’s a late 90’s, early 2000’s look.  Imagine.

I know several things from conversations with them.  Ken has ADHD.  I think there’s some other issues as well, but I don’t think either he or his mother knows it.  As a person with bipolar disorder myself, I recognize mental health issues in others.  I don’t know if it’s bipolar, but there seems to be more at work.  Neither generation has much education, and neither drives.  They walk everywhere.  I saw them crossing Union Boulevard near the Giant grocery store.  It’s a very busy road.  I assume they take the bus when they need to go farther, but I’ve never heard them mention it.

Ken always talks very loudly.  He probably doesn’t realize it.  It doesn’t bother me.  I wear a hearing aid in one ear, so it’s kind of comforting to never miss anything someone says.  He talks constantly, too.  I won’t tell you it never bothers me, but only when I’m really busy and can’t focus on what he’s saying.  I know as someone who hasn’t always fit in well, that he doesn’t have a lot of people to talk to.

It isn’t just idle chatter.  He tells me about his experiences.  People take advantage of him sometimes.  I don’t tell him that.  I just tell him what he should do in the type of situation he describes.  He’s pretty sharp, though, and I only need to affirm what he suspects and he often has the solution himself.

He once told me how he applied to a convenience store up the street, but then was anxious (and I do think it was anxiety) about earning too much and losing his Social Security supplemental income.  I told him to just limit his hours.  He wanted to go tell them he didn’t think he should work there and to withdraw his application.  I told him to just wait and check with Social Security about how much he could make.  He couldn’t wait though and went to talk to the folks at the convenience store.  He was told that people with ADHD can’t work, or something to that effect.  Of course, you and I know they were never going to consider him for the job anyway.  I felt for him that he had to find out directly what they thought of him.  He was undaunted though. He said to me that it wasn’t right and asked if I agreed.  I certainly did.

Over the winter, he shoveled snow all day long when we got 18″ of snow on top of a previous snow.  The kid wants to work, but this world has no place for him.  That day, he stopped by the stock room as the manager and I were organizing after getting our weekly truck.  He was agog with excitement from the day’s activities and his earnings.  After he left, my boss commented that when she sees him, it makes her thankful that her kids turned out “normal”, not meaning it in a derogatory way.  I said I think about what happens to him when his mom is gone?  I’m sure our compassionate and generous society will have his back. (sarcasm)  I hope current trends are reversed before that happens.

Finally, Ken talks about people at the businesses he frequents as his ‘friend’.  I’m sure he talks about me as his friend and if he told me so, I’d tell him, “Right back at ya, kid.”