Once my sister and I made the decision to move mother to Ohio, we had to act quickly. Thankfully, my sister and I work very well together. We split up the work between us and put together the resources we would need to make this happen. She and my brother-in-law would fly from Alaska and I would fly from Ohio. Their flight would get them in a day before me and they would begin helping mother to pack if she had not done so herself. (Of course she hadn’t done so herself!) Although we tried including mother in the entire process, she was mentally unable to help. Depression had settled on mother like a blanket, as she took no interest in her personal property or the activity around her. We tried to give her tasks to complete while we attended to other things, but she could not collect her thoughts. She wandered from room to room, picking up the occasional item and placing it in a box. However, the massive packing job fell to the rest of us.
My brother-in-law made trips to the local grocery store for boxes and taped them together while my sister and I filled them. While we packed, we thought it a good idea to weed out some of the junk. After all, why would we need to move a thousand plastic containers from the deli? My mother collected (or hoarded) everything. The U-Haul we rented would only handle a limited amount and we were determined not to rent a larger truck. As we continued to box up household items, we realized that the three of us were not going to be able to lift all of these boxes and load the U-Haul. My sister contacted a local church to see if they might be able to provide us with some help. The church referred us to a company where we could hire some workers the day of the move. We decided this was a necessary expense and the decision turned out to be a very good one.
During the course of our packing, we secreted some items out of the house and made a few runs to the local Goodwill. We hated being devious, but with mother unable to make any decisions for herself we felt it the only option. If we asked her, we would have to keep the thousand plastic deli containers. We still ended up moving a great deal more than we wanted to move. The day of the move, our help arrived promptly as scheduled. The two men had the entire house packed into the U-Haul in under two hours. We could not have accomplished this without their help.
Anyone moving from one state to another should keep these few things in mind.
• Travel light! Preparing for a “distance” move is the perfect time to de-clutter if possible, especially for anyone making the move on a slim budget. Renting a truck is usually less expensive than hiring a moving van. Also, think of the space you are moving into on the other end. Is it as large as the space you are leaving? Often this sort of move necessitates downsizing and this is the perfect time to sort out non-essentials (for instance, if you move from a house to an assisted living facility or an apartment). A move might also be the perfect time to gift certain cherished belongings to heirs.
• Use local resources. As mentioned above, we contacted a local church. The pastor was very helpful in connecting us with resources. If you are not comfortable with this idea, start searching the Yellow Pages. Of course, the Internet is always a valuable source. We used the telephone book to find the Goodwill store nearest mother. Other charitable organizations can benefit from your donations as well. The local grocery store provided us boxes for packing so we did not spend extra money on packing materials.
• Plan ahead. Renting a pick-up truck instead of a car at the airport was another valuable asset. An SUV probably would have worked too. The key is having enough space for hauling.
• Take time to rest. Although funds for the move might be limited, you just cannot scrimp on some items. Depending on how far you are moving, make sure to budget in enough money for rest. You will not be able to travel a thousand miles in a day, especially if you are moving an elderly person. We spread our trip over two days, spending one night in a hotel. You can usually find a reasonably priced hotel and, often times, a continental breakfast will be included in your stay. Also important is stopping throughout the day to stretch the legs. Stops do not have to be longer than 10 or 15 minutes, but they go a long way toward maintaining one’s sanity.