Before you move in, you have to move out

The last of this fall’s Community Health Series at The Greens at Cannondale was all about the challenges, hopes, burdens, and mysteries of moving from one address to another.

Patty Gabal is one of the three owners (and registered nurses) of “Changing Places” — moving the people you love. She seemed like the perfect person to be tackling this subject. Attractive, warm and caring, she is the epitome of daughterhood and somehow, when Mom or Dad has to be relocated, it’s good to have a daughter. “Does anyone like moving?” Ms. Gabal asked. The answer was 99.9% No!

“Changing Places” specializes in assisting older adults and their families with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation and/or “aging in place.” Though a major reason for moving is leaving one’s home to be better cared for in an assisted-living community, Ms. Gabal started from Step One: the nitty-gritty of relocation. Downsizing requires de-cluttering the homestead and decreasing one’s “stuff.” What to do with the dining room table that served the family for years? Or the piano? Or the mixed paraphernalia in closets?

It’s the hardest thing in the world to part with the objects that have been part of our lives, to discard memories we’ve become attached to. But it must be done. Generally, adult children don’t want the sofa or the recliner or the set of Charles Dickens works. Often, in addition to the house stuff, there’s more in storage. Yes, it’s time to locate the pickup people and charities that will dispose of it or deliver it to new recipients. (“Changing Places” helps you do that.)

You need a plan and a buddy to help you decide what’s to be kept, what’s to be given away, what’s to be donated or possibly sold, and what, actually, nobody will want and should be tossed away. It is easier doing it with a friend. Recommended: doing it an hour at a time. The whole subject of what’s to go and what’s to stay is deeply personal. But when relocation means moving from a 30-year residence to an apartment, the children’s bicycles need letting go.

Wilton’s Turnover Shop is a scenario of remembrance of things past and a testament to the fact that pre-owned can be re-treasured. (And the purchase helps others.) Sentiment as well as procrastination often prevents people from surveying their possessions realistically. Mothers,  especially, are known to have all the piggy banks, cups and saucers and calendars their kids ever made. The thought of getting rid of them and never seeing them again is tantamount to rejecting a child.

The shared emotions of the audience in the media center of The Greens at Cannondale was palpable. Staging a home for sale and deciding what’s precious and what’s not is no fun. The fact that “Changing Places” says there’s no charge for an initial consultation was a cheerful note.