My parents, Donald and Lauretta Fournier, were both from Aroostook County. They got married in 1957 and in 1961 moved to Bethpage, on Long Island, New York. Along with their belongings, they had a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son (me). Over the next three years they had two more daughters. Five years after that, my youngest sister was born.

Donald Fournier’s mother, Lauretta, had three years to cull and pack 50 years’ worth of belongings when she and her husband decided to move back to Maine in order to be near two of their children. Photographee.eu/Shutterstock.com

The seven of us resided in a medium-size Cape Cod-style four-bedroom, two-bath house. In the later years when I visited them I would sit in the living room and try to figure out how we all fit into such a small space. I came to the conclusion that we were smaller then and didn’t take up as much room as we would now. We definitely weren’t the next-generation Walton family. We had our sibling battles, but we all became successful in life. We can get together now and laugh about growing up and how our parents raised us. It must have been tough on them those early years.

In 2008, my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It was in the early stages. Ten years earlier, my youngest sister and I had moved to Maine. My wife and I settled in Waterville, and my sister settled in Presque Isle.

We tried to convince my parents to move back to Maine so we could help them out as much as we could. At first both my parents wanted to stay on Long Island, but as my father’s health started to decline, they decided it was the best thing to do. He wanted to be in an assisted-living environment where he could easily transition to a nursing facility. He knew where this disease was going to take him. We found the perfect place for them in Presque Isle, where my sister is a doctor: Leisure Village.

My mom agreed to the move, as long as it was done at her speed. She had 50 years of “stuff” to go through. She did this at the speed of three years, donating a lot to charity and boxing up the things she wanted to take to Maine. I know it was hard for her.

Moving day came in September 2011. I backed up the rental truck to the house. My sister and I and two of my friends started loading things. I had my parents sit in the kitchen to watch the operation. They were smiling. One hour later, I walked over to them and asked them to stand up. They looked a bit puzzled. They were sitting on the last two pieces of furniture to be moved. The smiles disappeared. I could see they were sad. Fifty years of their life loaded into a truck and ready to go in an hour.

I drove their belongings and my sister drove them to their new home.

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