How to convince Mother that she no longer had need of 44 handbags?
I have recently spent a month in the UK helping my mother to pack up her house, prior to moving. She has, of course, stayed in the large old family home for far too long and now, at the age of nearly 80, she has the luxury of pronouncing herself incapable of organizing the move without help. Dutifully and enthusiastically, my sister and I journeyed from Australia and New Zealand, respectively, to join forces with sister number three in the UK.
We had attempted to plan this move in a logical way:- Put Mum’s house on the market in the (UK) spring, start looking for a new house at the same time and, hopefully, everything would fall nicely into place. The problem is that some 80 year olds, notably my mother, do not necessarily stick to the plan and things rarely fall nicely into place where property is concerned. So when, in November, my mother found the “small house of her dreams” and decided it would be hers, notwithstanding minor problems - such as lack of finance resulting from the fact that she hadn’t sold her own house – we were all thrown into a bit of a panic. We rallied round, scraped together the necessary money for the deposit, put Mum’s house on the market and hoped for the best.
The best couldn’t have been much worse and on February 16th, Mum started her new life as a property magnate – now proudly owning two houses – well, strictly speaking, her daughters temporarily owning one. The small problem now facing the assembled workforce was that, faced with the real prospect of moving, Mother had now decided that she was not as infatuated with her new house as she had originally thought. In fact, she threatened to commit suicide if we “forced” her to move. This was rather hard to swallow given the amount of money we had lent her! What to do?!
Armed only with a medicinal gin bottle (to fortify mother), four large skips, an auctioneer who was prepared to sell anything of value and an angel (in the form of a local man with a large van who was organizing a jumble sale) we proceeded to empty every cupboard, drawer, shed, loft, hiding place and garage. There were moments of despair, nostalgia, merriment and utter frustration and sometimes all four together – like the time when we found Mum’s handbag collection. How to convince Mother that she no longer had need of 44 handbags? YES, we were aware that the Queen probably had more than 44 and NO, we didn’t think the Queen would want any of Mum’s. Three hours’ later we had pared the collection down to about 20. Good work! However, at the end of the vast de-cluttering programme, the house looked wonderful, our dear Mother looked fantastic, and we looked exhausted. However, mission accomplished - and I have just heard that she has a buyer for her house.
So…what is my message to fellow kiwiboomers? If you want to keep all your handbags, move before you are sixty when logic is still sharp and before you need to rely on your bossy children to tell you what to do!