The second contributory fact for my 80 day absence was the premature closure of Mr P’s family house in PauMr P’s aged aunt’s health had deteriorated  to a stage where she needed more in-depth care than his equally elderly mother could provide.

We have always been aware that this situation would arrive in the near future — but were caught napping when it rapidly loomed upon us out of the blue and we had to take a dash to France.

Finding a suitable nursing home for elderly people is difficult at the best of times — finding one that accepts patients with Alzheimer’s, and provides compassionate understanding care for them, is even worse. Luckily, we had the help of one of Mr P’s brothers who took care of most of that for us . A deal was struck he would sort out their aunt and we would sort out their mother.

A suitable residence was found for their aunt, not far from where the brother’s family lives — which would enable him to visit her whenever he went to see his daughter and granddaughter.

We then had the task of packing up mother and her possessions and returning her to the apartment in Lisbon.

Mother was worn out.  She had borne the burden of responsibility for too long.  She wanted out and out right now — not after Christmas, not in a month’s time but this week.   We agreed on the next Monday in this instance — the shortest time we could take to get ourselves up and ready for the 1400 kilometer trip to pick and pack her up.

We forewent our usual stop in Lisbon and drove straight there hoping for a short turn around — a couple of days last-minute arranging and closing up before the 1400 kilometer drive back.

On our arrival, it was soon apparent that this was not going to be as easy as we had been led to believe.  The disconnect continued.  The phone had been cut as the bills were in the aunt’s name and all services in her name not the “family” name had to be closed and paid in full when she left.

Various other family members had been in and taken items they had been promised — such as the fridge and freezer as well as plates and glasses and other bits and bobs.   I can understand moving the furniture and bits and bobs, but taking the fridge and freezer while she was still living there was to me rather naughty and incredibly selfish.

On top of this, mother was so not ready to move — like a startled rabbit in the headlights — it was like now she knew she was going home.  She stopped everything except going to a round of goodbye parties.  The house was like a bombsite — left that way by the previous recipients of goodies.

Nothing had been done, nothing was packed or sorted — there was nothing we could do except knuckle down and get things done. In theory this meant I sorted, packed and labelled and Mr P did all he could to prevent his mum from losing it altogether.

So we shopped for boxes, tape, black bin bags , labels markers and yet more boxes as it soon became clear that she was not only packing for herself but all the stuff she wanted us to have so it was not lost outside the family.

This process went on for days. If I ever move again, I am getting someone else to do the packing.  I never ever want to have to pack up a house again.

Eventually, we realized that if we were ever going to get out of there this side of Christmas we would have to put our feet down and say, “we leave on this day,” and stick to it — which we eventually did.

I managed to set myself up a very efficient packing line — one side of the room was items to be packed followed by piles of flat pack boxes, packing materials tape, etc, to be made up and then on the other side of the room the pile of boxes and furniture all labeled and numbered ready for the removal men. This worked a treat until mother started adding bits and pieces of her own to the final pile because Mr P said there was no room in the car.   ARGHHHHHHHHH.

We finally managed our escape after spending at least as twice as long as we had intended there, after rewriting the infamous list for the removal men at least four times, and having to drop off important documents here there and everywhere on our way out of the city.

I slept most of the way home.  I do not think I have ever been so exhausted.


  1. This is a touching experience you’ve shared with us. It must be difficult to be at the crossroads of a final change and have the guts and stamina to tell those around you, “I’ve had enough.”

    1. I honestly do not know how she managed for so long especially as she is only two years younger than the aunt. The fact that since I have known her ( two and a half years) she has also had breast cancer, been operated on and had radiotherapy as well as managing to do all this , is nothing short of remarkable. I am sure they made them tougher in those days !

      1. That’s what I was thinking. In history, “those like her” born tough and unbreakable just kept on until they dropped dead. Now, it’s okay to pause and say, “I’d like a change in status, please” and want to be able to wind down in your own time instead of keeping time for those around you.

        1. If anyone deserves it she does – it took her a couple of rather tiresome weeks to settle back in Lisbon, but now she has , it is like she has a new lease of life and is raring to go again. She has reconnected with her church, her friends and her beloved apartment. The final step will be next Monday when her belongings arrive from Pau.

  2. Now that was quite a job! Moving is difficult enough, but to try and take care of everything NOW can be very overwhelming. You and Mr. P did a good thing though. Hope you are recovering well, and that Mr. P’s mom can get settled back into her home. Does this mean there will be a pert 2 to this post? The Unpacking…

    1. I am getting there 🙂 Funny you should mention the unpacking – we have just been told we have to be in Lisbon on Sunday morning to receive the first lot – our part will be delivered to us later in the week – there certainly will be a part two as I have treasures arriving 🙂 🙂

  3. What a difficult thing – physically AND emotionally. I did a mini-version of this with my stepmom a few years ago. It is not easy. As they (who?) say, “Old age is not for the faint of heart”

  4. It can be quite traumatic – even when it is a most desired wish. Her belongings arrived yesterday and yet again we were on hand to assist – it was much easier this time and she was delighted to be reunited with her treasures.

    I was saying to someone else that you have to be tough to survive old age – I honestly do not know how she has coped with what she has done.

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