Parental Journal 93 from Planet Elderly – Mom’s House Is Empty Now

Thursday, September 30, 2017 – afternoon

I spent most of the week of September 11 in Grayslake, Illinois emptying Mom’s townhouse and getting it ready to put on the market.  It was one of the most difficult weeks of my life, but I had some angels on my side.

Judy Beyer, Sister Margo, Betty Beyer Sept. 2017  Judy Beyer, Sister Margo (Judy’s aunt) and Betty Beyer…angels extraordinaire!

I was the house guest of friend, Judy.  She and I met in 2015 when our fathers were roommates at the skilled nursing section of The Village at Victory Lakes. Both died last year.  Judy and I kept in touch now and then, and when I thought about spending almost a week closing out the townhouse, I wrote to Judy and asked if I could spend evenings at her place.  I knew I would need some companionship and some support.  I offered her a part-time paid gig…which she was planning to refuse…but I would not hear of it. One day Judy and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch with her mom, Betty, and Aunt, Sister Margo.

Jenny, Judy, Sister Margo and Betty Sept 2017

It turned out to be what seemed like a week of miracles.  There were some large items to sell or donate, kitchen and bathroom cabinets to empty, and closets and a basement to purge.  I was unsure of where to donate items that would be of use to someone…items I did not want to keep and ship to Missouri.

St. Vincent de Paul

That’s when Judy mentioned St. Vincent de Paul.  Early in the week she stopped by to talk with them and saw their moving truck.  She spoke with a lady from her church and explained what we were doing.  The movers agreed to stop by Mom’s place to pick up whatever we had to donate before going on to their scheduled pick up.  Talk about great timing!

I was at Mom’s going through some things when Judy called unexpectedly.   “They have a truck and can come right over.”  “I’m here!” I replied.

They were at the door within 20 minutes, looked over the big items and a few boxes set aside for them and they took it all:   mid-century long couch, twin size hide-a-bed, four twin bed frames, a mid-century king size headboard, a vintage 1960s sewing machine with bench, a mannequin for sewers/tailors, and I can’t remember what else.  It was packed in a matter of 40 minutes and when I went to thank the guys before they closed the van, I saw everything placed neatly in the van.  And then I wept.  There were tears of gratitude, relief, and sadness. The burden of having to donate/sell large items was lifted, thanks to Judy and her connection with St. Vincent de Paul. One organization took it all and saved me so much time.  The sad tears came from a part of me that felt I was erasing my folks’ lives in a home they both loved…but over time those thoughts subsided.  Judy reminded me that I was creating a new chapter and that the items donated would go to many in need.

Purging, Packing and Prepping

During the following days Judy and I were quite busy.  We purged and packed.  We packed boxes and designated items she took to St. Vincent de Paul as well as items packed for shipping back to Missouri.

Boxes from Mom's place  Boxes arrived in MO

Neighbor Marcy recommended a lady who cleans houses, so rather than go with a franchise, I chose a woman making her own way in life.  I was not disappointed.  Jacquie was terrific…thorough beyond expectations.  She found a sponge lodged underneath one of the stove burners (!!!!!!) thus preventing a possible future disaster.  In addition, Judy and I offered her anything she could use and she found some stuff to take home in her van.

The realtor I originally contacted was stuck in Florida’s after hurricane chaos, so I called Better Homes and Gardens Realty in Grayslake and ended up working with Jamie Hering.  What a gem!  I shared with Jamie my ideas of marketing a 1970s era townhouse, paying the association fee for 2018 as an incentive to potential buyers, and she got right to work.  She scheduled a photographer for Wednesday after the carpets were cleaned.  I think the first showing was Friday, September 22.   By Sunday, September 24 I countered an offer and we had a deal.  “Easy Peazy” Jamie wrote to me in a text.

On Friday the 15th, I took seven boxes to the local UPS shipping shop and arranged to have them sent to my Missouri address.  When I first thought of this task, I thought I might have to have 20 to 40 boxes shipped and donate to organizations in Columbia MO, but I shipped 7 boxes and packed two in the trunk of my car.

The last chore was disposing of many trash bags filled with unused and unusable “stuff,” much of which was stored in the basement.  I scheduled “Got Junk?”  for the same Friday I had the boxes shipped.  They took away ancient twin mattresses and box springs, bags in the garage, and bags and unusable stuff in the basement.  It was all done within an hour and well worth the fee.


By mid-afternoon of September 15, Mom’s house was empty.  I was very tired and very sad.  I was also very relieved.   With Judy, St. Vincent de Paul, a realtor I immediately had confidence in, a gal who loves to clean houses, and the “Got Junk?” crew and Stanley Steamer coming in the next week…it was all done.  It felt surreal.   We accomplished all this in six days?  We did.


I walked into every room, looked around one last time, and said, “Mom and Dad, I did the best I could.”  And then I sobbed.  Closing my parents’ home was one of the most difficult things I have done.  I was glad the furniture and things that meant most to Mom were moved to her memory care community in Columbia, MO.  Emptying the rest of it…well, it’s an experience that will always be close to my heart.

Italian Food To Celebrate

Judy and I celebrated the end of our busy week with dinner at Lino’s Ristorante in Libertyville, IL.  It was delicious and we shared an unbelievable tiramisu for dessert.  Fifteen days later, I can still taste it.

Tarimisu from Lino's Ristorante Libertyville IL Sept. 2017

About jjmummert

This blog was originally titled "Drifting Toward Planet Elderly," and it shared a journey I had with my elderly parents as they both finished their lives battling the complexities of dementia. After both passed on, I changed the title to "Living on Planet Elderly." I am a retiree who is reluctantly adjusting to the reality that she is now elderly. In July of 2021, I relocated to Middleton WI after living in Columbia MO for over 40 years. I decided that I want to experience a new and vibrant location in a cooler climate with lakes...a bucket list item of mine. I have a first cousin who lives in Madison. We have nice childhood memories, and I thought it would be wonderful to spend some time together as elders. It was. AND March 2023, I returned to Columbia. I had a wonderful time experiencing the Madison area of Wisconsin, spending time with my cousin, and making some wonderful friends. No regrets.
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