My Grandmother Wants to Go "Home"- Giving Up a House You Love

By
Real Estate Agent with Prudential Page Realty

As a Realtor,  selling houses and condos day in and out, with many homeowners selling and upgrading quicker than they ever were, and working in Boston where the average homeowner spends 3-5 years in their first home, I don't have as much exposure to those people who have lived in their homes for years and years.  I was reminded after visiting my grandmother recently of how important a house is, when it is truly a "HOME". 

My grandmother had the most beautiful Victorian Home on Fairmount Hill (a really nice area in Boston). She is the reason I have such a passion for real estate, as at a very young age, we would walk daily through the neighborhood (where I now own my own place) and she would point out all the beautiful homes and details, and gardens, talking about what the rooms inside must be like, and telling me which family lived in each home. These walks are some of my favorite memories. 

What's hard now is that my grandmother has Alzheimer's and while most of the time she is doing well, there are some days she is just so confused. She now lives in a condo-like community for the elderly. She opted to move to this community a few years back, feeling that after my grandfather had passed, being alone in an old house had many difficulties. With a long wait list at places like these, when they did call with an open condo, she had to make a quick decision, or the wait would have been another four years. She now has a bright corner unit at "Winter Valley" with lots of windows, and tons of light. Her pastel colored furniture brightens up what would otherwise be a "Vanilla Box" as we like to say. Her walls filled with family pictures bring life to the space, and her rocking chair with knitting basket fits right in as it had in her own home. 

The other night we went out to dinner, and I was driving her back and like old times, again she was pointing out all the houses she loves, and now I am able to tell her which ones I have been in, and what the rooms like. At one point she said to me: "I always thought that as long as I could go on my walks, I Would never have to leave my home." I was so taken aback that I went into realtor mode - pointing how nice and bright her place was now.....how much easier it was to take care of a smaller space .....how much of a pain old houses can be...how things always need fixing etc. I meant all of it, but didn't want to face the truth of what she really was saying. She finally looked over and said: "I know it's nice, but I just really miss my home." 

This broke my heart for so many reasons. She loved her home more than anyone I have ever known. She liked certain rooms at certain times of the day because of the way sunlight streamed in, or on a hot day she knew exactly which spot had the best breezes, she never missed watching a sunset from her kitchen window, and she was a welcome face for the commuters coming home on the train as she watered her garden every night. I was so naive to not see that no matter what her new small "condo" looks like, or how bright and sunny it felt - it just isn't HOME. 

I guess I am just writing from the heart here...because I didn't know what to say to her then, and I don't what to say now. How do you help someone find the peace they felt in a home they truly loved, when for life's unfair reasons, they had to give that home up. 

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Tags:
houses
home
elderly
assisted living
grandmother
boston
hyde park

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Anonymous #11
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Anonymous
Hello Erica,
What a lovely post, I felt like I was riding with you and your Grandmother.  Growing old is not for the faint of heart and watching one you love with Alzheimer is even harder.  My Grannie suffered from that awful disease too and is was heart wrenching to see.  Continue to visit her and do things with her that she enjoys while you can. 
August 13, 2007 10:56 AM
Rainer
54,699
Chad Baird
Re/Max Spirit

THe last conversations I had with my grandpa he never even recognized me as a Grandson.  I was an Army buddy from WWII.  He was always consistant about the name he called me and where we were at in Europe .  I just talked along and tried to keep up.  He had a sharp memory of things that happeneded in his 20's, but nothing past that.  Alzheimer's is a strange disease. 

Good luck and enjoy Grandma for as long as possible! 

August 13, 2007 11:20 AM
Anonymous #13
Anonymous
Anonymous
I know how hard it is, my grandmother is now in a nursing facility because of her heart. She talks of times at the old homestead. She sure does miss it but knows that she couldnt have cared for the place any longer by herself.
August 13, 2007 11:44 AM
Rainer
245,227
Desiree Daniels
RE/MAX Tri County

<sigh> Talk about Grandmothers always make me smile than sigh.    My grandmother sold her home when she was sick and move into one of "those" complexes.   It was never the same... she was never the same.  

If i ever have a reason to travel to the town where my grandparents lived I do drive up to the house and sit in front of there wondering if the peopled cared for it as much as my grandmother did.  I'd wish my mother and her sisters didn't opt to sell it....

Okay .. now I am off to search for a photo... just to cheer me up....   I understand what you're Grandma means... cherish her... I wish mine was still around

August 18, 2007 02:15 PM
Rainmaker
942,123
Kathy Clulow
CNE - ASP - SRES .... Uxbridge Ontario Real Estate
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage

Alzheimers is a cruel disease, it takes your life away from you a little bit at a time. My Mom lived with us for 5 years after the family decided she should not live alone in her home by the lake anymore.

Her time with us was wonderful for her and our grandchildren as we also had 3 of our grandchildren with us at the same time (what a house full 4 generations under one roof). I feel it helped prolong her ultimate move to the nursing home by quit some time. I know she enjoyed every day and so did her great grandkids. They will always remeber living with Great Grandma in grammas house.

Now I need that kleenex box

August 18, 2007 05:10 PM
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Rainmaker
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Erica Wallace

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Passionate about all things real estate, social media, and technology. If you are looking to buy or sell in the Greater Boston/Metrowest area of Massachusetts, or if you'd like to hear about career opportunities in the industry, let's chat!

Prudential Page Realty

Erica Wallace, Real Estate Professional in Boston, MA