Welcome to Lakewood/Tacoma, Ben Taylor!


Yesterday Lisa and I spent ten hours helping Ben Taylor move from Olympia to Lakewood/Tacoma to be closer so that getting together more often isn’t such a challenge. (Ben, and Edward Smith of Yelm, often accompany us when we go somewhere special or have holiday celebrations, so having Ben closer makes doing so a lot easier and safer, especially during inclement weather.)


Ben is a veteran and over 80, with some health challenges, so it was largely up to Lisa and me and seven LDS missionaries that Ben recruited (four in Olympia and three in Tacoma) to move his earthly possessions some 30 miles north of where he has been living for the past four years.


The LDS men did most of the schlepping of 50+ boxes and a few pieces of furniture into and out of the U-Haul Lisa hired for the move. I was the designated driver for the U-Haul because Lisa has never driven a behemoth van before, and I have, lots of times.


As the boxes left the rooms in Olympia, piled high on moving dollies, Lisa and I scrambled to box last-minute items (the items Ben was using every single day) into boxes so the LDS men could take them out, too. (We had to sequester Ben’s two cats into carriers, first thing, so they wouldn’t be stressed out and maybe escape as the move-out was taking place.)


The LDS men had only a couple hours at each end to help us, so we got 99% of the stuff out of the old place. We plan to return next week to get the rest (food that is still in the fridge, mostly, but also the rest of Ben’s clothes, some of which I get if I want them, and if they fit, I do! — practically brand new businessmen’s jackets and suits) and clean the floors and other surface areas so the place looks as good to the facility owners as it did when he moved in.


As we left the old place, I called the LDS folks and let them know we were on our way north to Lakewood, so they could get there at about the same time we did.


It was arctic cold outside, so we got Ben and the cats into his new digs first, and then returned to the U-Haul to get a chair and the cat stuff for Ben and the cats right away.


In the new place, Ben’s room is located at the end of two long hallways. He has a lot more room in the new place, and it’s light and lovely in there. It is soooo much better than where he was living. But the people at the place he left were sorry to see him go. At least one of them cried.  Ben got a text about that, and he was very touched by it. In fact, he was delightfully emotional about the whole thing. He was sooooo grateful for all the help and attention.  COVID has been very hard on elderly people who live alone. He has been in that category, still another reason we’re so glad he’s closer. Since we’re all vaccinated, boosted, and living close to each other (Lisa just blocks away in Lakewood, me in the Midland/Summit area), getting together now will be a whole lot easier!


By the time we got back to the U-Haul to start schlepping in more stuff, the Tacoma-based LDS fellows arrived and took over the unloading and schlepping process, freeing Lisa and me to return to Ben’s apartment and start unloading boxes almost as fast as they came in. Doing this kept the front room open for the guys to keep bringing boxes and furniture in without bottlenecks developing.


Lisa and I put most of the boxes into the designated rooms they were slated to be in (pantry, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, side room, front/entertainment center room) and opened them, putting away most of the items in them in between arrivals of more boxes and furniture, so it was a very efficient operation.


By the end of ten hours, we had at least 70% of everything put away and the few pieces of furniture all in the right rooms.  The still-unopened boxes are filled with his DVDs and other entertainment center goodies, because we still need to place the curio cabinet and DVD cabinet properly against the walls before we can pull those out and set them up. (He has many boxes of those.)


There are still about seven or eight pantry and kitchen boxes to open and place, but they’re in the entryway closet for now and out of the way until we can get to them. (Some might stay right there because his pantry and kitchen cabinets already have sufficient items on them until he uses what’s there now. That’s why we put them in the entryway closet, so they’re out from underfoot until they’re needed.)


By the time 5pm rolled around, we had returned the U-Haul to its location and gotten Lisa’s van to get around in, so it was time for FOOD (boy howdy!). We left Ben in his new apartment to enjoy his new digs and catch a short nap (just while we dropped off the U-Haul and got Lisa’s van — maybe 20 minutes total because getting Ben up so high into  the U-Haul cab would have been risky). When we got back, sure enough, Ben was sound asleep in his recliner chair, so we had to wake him up. Then Lisa drove us to Ivar’s to get dinners. Alas, they shorted us by one cup of clam chowder (even though they charged us for it) but we were too tired to go back and get it, so we let it go…


The Ivar’s dinners (three piece fish and chips for Lisa and me, plus the cup of clam chowder for me;Lisa kindly said I could have it), and a big bowl of clam chowder for Ben) really hit the spot.   (UPDATE: When Lisa and I stopped at Ivar’s for clam chowder a few weeks later, we told them about the missing cup of clam chowder and why we hadn’t returned to get it that night, and they comped us a free one, making sure to say that if it ever happens again to save the receipt so they had  record of the transaction. I promised we would. They didn’t require one this time.  Bless their hearts! Good people there on South Tacoma Way and Hwy 512!)


Oh! Before we left Ben for a while, we released the kitties from their carriers and Miss Kitty came right out to use the litter pan and drink some water. Sherman was more reticent to venture out, but by the time Lisa and I got back, he had come out and sequestered himself in a closet while he contemplates this new “change of scenery” thing.  (He should be fine by now, today.)


So, that was OUR day. How was yours?





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Kris Smith

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