The Closet

Three years ago when we collectively decided to move my mom (and her hubby) to another state and into our home. Our property had already been customized for their future.

Years back when the boys were younger and we had settled back in The Bend, Granny and Poppy spent about six months each year at our house. We did what most do, one of the boys moved out of their room and the grandparents took it over. Our elder parents started to consider purchasing a property in town. The sixteen hour car ride one way starts to take a toll. Long story short, considering the upkeep for the months they wouldn’t be present, another alternative presented itself. They built 1500 square feet in-law suite onto our home. While designing, we planned for the future. No upper cabinets, Granny is barely five feet tall. A shower that has a zero entrance and an opening big enough for a wheelchair. There were other considerations as well.

The one thing that we – the collective we – didn’t account for was the definition of downsizing from a three bedroom beach house to a Midwest in-law suite. Our first moment of realization was when the full moving semi truck appeared at the curb. What to do now? The suite was already fully furnished prior to the truck arriving six years after the space was built. More on the move and where it all went later.

In Granny’s house she had custom built a master closet the size of a room, chandelier and all. Since living with us, she has regularly mentioned how much she misses that closet. We have sorted and eliminated clothes that are out of date, out of style and out of season. So the closet is only for the current season. What to do with the rest? And what to do with the closet itself – Granny misses the pull out shelves, the chandelier, the bling, and racks that she can reach.

Well, one thing at a time. Let’s improve the closet, as much as it can be! I can make that happen, she has resources. A call to California Closets, followed by a 30 minute house visit, everything was selected and ordered. The chandelier from storage will be phase two.

Install is next week. It is time to remind Granny of the upcoming schedule. Granny lost the concept of time years ago. Two things need to happen before the installers arrive, empty the closets (one his, one hers), then patch and paint. I gave Granny the plan, on Friday she and I can move all the clothes out and into my front all closets. Then on the weekend, my husband and I would patch and paint. With a full week on my calendar, I plugged away.

On Wednesday, I happen to walk into Granny’s bedroom and notice that in a manic way she started removing things from her closet. Items were folded and put into any container she found: boxes, bags, totes and the second dog crate! I probably sighed, then reminded her of the plan. She said she wanted to get started. It was fine, she told me. My thoughts went to the evening after the install when we would need to re-populate the closet! How would I find anything? (I know it isn’t all about me!)

I didn’t have time to take on emptying the rest of the closet at that moment. By Thursday afternoon, Poppy was putting suitcases in his trunk! What was going on? I didn’t have to ask. Poppy spotted me, “A fine mess you got us into this time!” “Excuse me?” “Your mother, has filled the bedroom with everything from the closets, I can’t get to my side of the bed. Unless you have somewhere for me to store this stuff, I am putting it in the trunk of my car.”

I walked into the back, he was right. I offered some suggestions, Granny said it was fine, Poppy was helping her, much to his dismay. There is a full dresser in the middle of their living room. What I understand is that my mom still remembers that person she was, she churned through each and every project. That recall gets her started, her obsessive compulsive behavior won’t let her stop. Somewhere in the process, chaos takes its toll, anxiety and anger rage. There is a small, sweet spot to medicate her prior to the anger getting out of control. I managed to hit the sweet spot this time!

Granny wanted to help paint too. She found that she wasn’t as good as she once was. I hope what she remembers is that she helped!

Hopefully, the end of this adventure will bring my mom a smile and moments of joy when she opens her closet. It will never be what she had. With all our planning, we missed storage! How is that possible? All the physical aspects were taken into consideration (I hope).

If you and your parent(s) are considering downsizing, besides the obvious possible physical needs that could arise, look, think and ask what is important to them. You will have your opinion, ask theirs. Is there a special chair that needs to placed just right in front of the tv? Surround sound wired? Some people have difficulty hearing – really! Put up and out the sentimental pieces that illicit memories! (Positive memories, please.)

Do your parents live with you? Are there custom accommodations that you have made for them? What are they? Have the needs/wants changed over the years they have spent with you?

Wish us luck on the install!


The secret of being Happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most of everyday.


I am a daughter, a wife, a mom of three boys and a "mom" to boys from other mothers. I live for my family and work hard to set an example of a life in Christ. I have to remind myself that to enjoy the little things because the chaos can become overwhelming. I can't make up the things that happen in our world, so after much encouragement, I decided to write about them. Hopefully you will enjoy the stories and think, "Hmm, it's not just at my house!"

2 comments on “The Closet

  1. Dear Marguerite,
    first of all, good luck on the install!
    I admire you very much for your ability to deal with situations! It would have been a problem for me even hosting a boy for 10 months, not for you …

    Unfortunately I can’t answer your questions, maybe you should ask my in-laws, as my family and I have moved on the ground floor of their large house!
    We are separate but close.
    I can say that living close together is an enrichment for everyone, certainly it would be better to knock before entering other people’s bedroom…

    P.S.: The sentences (of famous people) you write at the end are fabulous


    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Emanuela, I will ask them in June 2021 – when the pandemic is over and we are all together in Italy! Thank you for your kind words and for continuing to read the blog! Marguerite

      Liked by 1 person

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