The Next Chapter
By Joann Dickson
Emma was ready. Her suitcase was packed and sitting by the door with a few boxes, her personal items that would be going to the assisted living facility with her. Her daughter Elizabeth was upstairs, tidying a few things before they left. That was Elizabeth – always “tidying things up” so there were never any loose ends. Emma knew it was the right decision. At ninety years of age, she was still in generally good health, considering, but little things were starting to happen. She would forget to take her meds or sometimes she was a little unsteady on her feet. Some days she couldn’t remember if she had bothered to eat. She shouldn’t be rattling around a big old drafty house at her age. She should be where someone would be checking on her daily and making sure she was eating proper meals. And since Elizabeth lived two states away, it wasn’t really convenient for her to come home often to check on her. Emma even had a few friends who had moved into the lovely new facility just a few miles from downtown. She knew she would get used to it. Even so, it had taken Emma a while to agree to the move. After all, she had this big house full of “stuff” and what would happen to all of it? She had gone from room to room, agonizing over what to give to the grandchildren (if they even wanted it), and what should be donated to Goodwill. As she had walked through the rooms, the house seemed to be talking to her, reminding her of all the memories the family had shared. Well, the memories were still in her head, so that was no problem. It was just all this “stuff”. Oh well, now it would be Elizabeth’s problem. Elizabeth, the pragmatic one, came down the stairs with a dustcloth in one hand and a toilet brush in the other. “There we go, Mom. Everything neat and tidy. You won’t have to worry about cleaning this big old museum any more. Someone will be there to clean your room, cook your meals, see to your meds. All you have to do is relax and enjoy yourself. You will still have your knitting, and the home has a wonderful library. You can borrow books any time you like and take as long as you like to read them. And your friends will be available for afternoon tea and cards after dinner. You’ll love it there.” Emma got up from her chair, took one last look around the living room, picked up her suitcase, and closed the door behind her.