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When my oldest sister died suddenly, I moved to Houston to help out with my mom's care. I'm glad for this time with her.

Sheryl Nance-Nash   

When my oldest sister died suddenly, I moved to Houston to help out with my mom's care. I'm glad for this time with her.
  • When my oldest sister died unexpectedly, my other sisters and I had to rethink my mom's care.
  • We decided to move our mother to Houston, where she would have access to better senior housing.

I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about taking care of my mother as she aged because she lived about five minutes away from my oldest sister Sharon, in California, where we grew up. The oldest of four, my big sis always took care of everything, and she took on caregiving of our mother when the time came, as well. Plus, I had long ago left California, and spent 30 years living in New York and before relocating to Jamaica during the pandemic.

When my oldest sister died unexpectedly and tragically in 2020, the world turned upside down, including the plan for who would take care of our mom. My youngest sister Lorie was still in California, but lived a two-hour drive each way from our mom. This was not ideal. It worked for a time, but as Mommy was in her mid-80s, she needed someone to be nearby.

My other two sisters and I had a decision to make

Me, Lorie, and our middle sister, Kai, who lives in Houston, did a Zoom and discussed what to do next. We thought about moving her closer to Lorie, but in Stanislaus County there weren't a lot of options for senior housing, let alone those with amenities, like a swimming pool or recreation center. I was in Jamaica, which was less than ideal, as she would be far away from my other sisters and healthcare there is not on par with the US.

After much consideration, we wondered if she would be open to moving to Houston. There were plenty of affordable independent living communities for seniors that also had the amenities we were looking for. We were nervous about proposing the idea of moving to Houston to her; after all, she had spent decades in California and would be leaping into the unknown. That can be challenging at any age, but change can be even more difficult as you get older. Much to our surprise, when we suggested moving, she didn't hesitate to say yes. But then again, that's her. She goes with the flow.

We all decided Houston was the best place for Mom and I moved there, as well

We quickly found a fantastic 55+ independent living community that was about 10 minutes from Kai. It was an answer to our prayers. I flew to California to accompany our mom on the flight to Texas. That marked a new beginning. For the first time, I was in charge of taking care of her. Though she was moving pretty well then, I still got a wheelchair at the airport so the trip would be easier. I was beginning to face the reality that she was aging.

She absolutely loved her new place. It was a comfortable one-bedroom and felt modern, and the grounds had a pool and clubhouse. The facility also offered plenty of activities daily, like coffee gatherings, devotional hours, bingo, potluck dinners, movie nights, and chair yoga; it felt like resort-style living. She was happy, and we were, too.

It was a momentous time for all of us. We were dealing with the loss of our sister, getting our mom moved, and getting through the pandemic. During this period, I was thinking it was time to get back to spending more time in the United States. When we originally decided to move her, it wasn't yet part of the plan for me to move to Houston. But I had given up my place in New York, and there was no real reason to go back.

I was at a crossroads. Houston looked good. I could help Kai with our mom, and the cost of living was far cheaper than New York. I had never thought about living in Texas before, but this made sense. It was almost too easy. I found a lovely apartment that was about five minutes from Kai in one direction, and in the other, 10 minutes from Mommy. It was meant to be.

I'm so glad to have this time with her even if some things are difficult

I love this phase of my life. Kai and I are a good team, and we have seen a lot more of Lorie as she and her husband have made several trips to Houston to see us all. Our family bond is tighter. While I was always faithful about calling my mom every Sunday afternoon and often a mid-week checkup, being 10 minutes away has been one of life's greatest blessings.

I can't make up for the years I was in New York, but every minute is precious. Whether it's during a drive to a doctor's appointment, sitting in the waiting room, or when I come over to do laundry, spending more time with my mom has been a pleasure. She tells me all kinds of stories. Once a week, she and I do chair yoga, which we both enjoy. That's our thing. I used to get jealous when she and Sharon went to the movies, and now, I've got my yoga time with her. I feel honored to help. My life has new meaning and more purpose.

It's scary sometimes, though, as we're making important decisions about her care, especially since she was diagnosed with dementia. At almost 90, she is getting weaker and uses a cane and a walker. But she still has her smile, and every now and again, she keeps it real and will tell me a hard truth, but something I need to hear. After a certain age, there is no filter. This is a good thing. I'm grateful, I need a truth-teller in my life, especially when it comes from the heart. I love her more every day. I don't know what comes next. For now, I'm loving the page we're on.

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