After Cecile’s husband, Henry, passes on, she seeks solace by moving into her son’s house. But when she gets there, her daughter-in-law makes her choose between their dark and unwelcoming basement and a nursing home. What happens when Cecile decides on another option altogether?
Losing a partner after forty years of marriage is traumatizing. Loneliness is felt immediately, but it becomes all the more consuming as time goes on.
When Henry, my husband, died of a heart attack, I felt this sense of loneliness harder than anything else. The grief took over, and all I wanted was to be around family.
I have two sons, Jack and Edward — Edward moved to Oxford straight out of college because he was awarded the opportunity to further his studies. He calls me every evening just to chat about our days.
Jack, on the other hand, lives not too far away from me. He is married to Lucy and has a son named after my husband.
So, now that I’m all alone in this big house Henry bought when we were just starting our family, I’ve been trying to decide whether to sell the house or live with Jack, as he offered, or move out by myself.
I decided to try living with Jack. It would be the most comforting thing. But little did I know, Lucy had other plans for my accommodation.
I asked my niece to pack up the place while I settled into my new home with Jack and his family.
So, I was at their doorstep, suitcases at my feet. Ready to take on the role of a live-in mother and grandmother — taking over the kitchen whenever Lucy needed me.
Lucy came to open the door, a mug of coffee in her hand, and told me that their house was bursting at the seams with the limited space and that the only room available was Henry Jr.’s room.
But she wasn’t about to upset the room and change it in any way. It was for Henry when he returned from his semester at college.
I understood that. It was his space, and I didn’t want to be a burden. But I had assumed that Jack would have sorted something out for me — he was the one who asked me to move in if I needed it.
“Cecile, we’ve got a bit of a space issue, as you can see,” Lucy repeated.
“You’ve got two options,” she continued. “There is the basement, or there’s a nursing home. Your call, grandma.”
Talk about a rock and a hard place.
Now, let me tell you about their basement. It’s not the basement you may find in some homes — there’s no converted space for gaming, sewing, or arts and crafts. It’s not a den or cozy room for guests.
Jack’s basement is more of a cold, humid dungeon with a bedframe that sighed at every move and a mattress with sharp springs.
This was not the comfort I needed.
“Lucy,” I said, shuffling my weight from one foot to the other. “I appreciate the options, dear. But I’ll pass on the basement and nursing home combo.”
Cue to my son — trying to play the peacemaker.
He came up from behind Lucy, his arm around her waist.
“Mom, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking when I invited you to stay. Lucy has a point. We’re tight on space. I promise to get some furniture for the basement to make it comfortable for you.”
A basement life wasn’t for me. A nursing home wasn’t for me — at least not yet. So, I just took matters into my own hands.
I dragged my suitcases to the car and drove to my niece’s home. I stayed there for a week while looking for a place I could buy.
The house was already on the market, and once it was sold, I knew I would have more than enough money to buy a small place for myself.
When everything was settled, my niece helped me move in, and I felt empowered. Maybe I didn’t need family as much as I thought I did.
Edward was worried about me being alone, but I reassured him I would be fine.
I moved into the new apartment soon after — a cozy one-bedroom, perfect for me and the cat I hoped to adopt. The bonu
Then, Jack phoned and asked me to dinner with him and Lucy. I drove to their home, wondering what they expected from me. We sat down for dinner, and I told them I had bought an apartment and lived there alone.
“I thought you were staying with Mia,” Jack said, referring to my niece.
“You can’t be serious!” Lucy exclaimed at the same time.
“I did stay with Mia until I moved. I needed my own space.”
“You said that you want to be around family, so I offered,” Jack said, turning red.
“Yes, but if it meant being shipped off to a nursing home or having to stay in your basement, I think I’m better off alone.”
Then, I left.
A few weeks later, I adopted my cat.
But I also rewrote my will, leaving everything to Edward, who continues putting money into my account every month, even though I told them I didn’t need it.
“A son must help his Mom,” he said.
He also asked me if I wanted to move abroad with him — but how could I? I needed to be close to where Henry rests, at least for now.
So, from basement dilemmas to a cozy haven of my own, life certainly throws you for a loop.
If your child gave you those options, what would you have done?