Friday, August 12, 2011

The Deed is Done

It's done.  The house officially belongs to someone else.  And it was not unpleasant.

We signed on the lines, removed our keys from our rings and shook hands.  The table laughed, shared stories and parted ways.  "R" is full of the energy of someone young, yet sensible enough to understand he has some work cut out for him.  He looked like a close relative of Matt Damon; boyish charm without the confidence of Hollywood.  As lovely an experience as one could have wished for, under the circumstances.

Good luck R.  May you make many happy memories amongst friends and family in your new home.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Last Saturday was the family’s official, final walk-through at our parents house.  We were lucky enough to go from listing to signing in just over a month.  All the cleaning and sorting has been done, the house has been vacuumed a final time; there will be one last mowing.  My sister brought Dad for a visit from the nursing for him to see it before it is no longer ours.  He is frail enough that we two girls, and my young sons were able to lift him in his wheelchair into the house.  He asked, “so there won‘t be a place for me to come home to?“ and then, “Isn’t it a shame it’s not going to be our house?”  

It is a shame, but it would be a greater still to let it fall into disrepair.  I don’t think he was quite ready to accept this.  S. Drive had been his home over sixty years since taking it from run-down military housing to a tight home in which to raise his family.  He is too old and dependent on help to stay there alone.  He cannot comprehend his inability, and we all have our own lives which consume so much of our time.  

As I walked behind his wheelchair through the echoing empty rooms, I imagined it through the lens of his eyes over sixty years ago.  It was a big deal to have a house of his very own to work it as he saw fit, developing skill as he went along.  He had quite the list of  projects he would undertake over the next several decades: refinished hardwood floors, knotty pine walls and hand-built kitchen cabinets.  He’d built solid flat rock walls, stairs, brick driveway and fireplace.  He worked not only within the perimeters of his house, but at the neighboring houses as well.  It’s hard to let it go, but let it go we must.  Dust in the wind.

The light uninterrupted, through windows pooling,  falls on the honey colored floors.  Breezes blow through windows left open carrying the scents from the gardens in varied bloom.  I said good-bye to my childhood rooms, where I’d listened to the crickets and watched for fire flies in the summer.  I took one last look out windows where I’d wondered at my future.  In the basement, I touched now barren walls which once held my father’s woodworking tools and treasures from scavenging deep in the woods for rocks for his walls. I whispered a farewell to the kitchen and my mother’s Sunday dinners, holidays, baking, the sounds of her singing, her special hugs.  Only now as I write this do the tears start to roll.  

My Mother kept us all together; family was important to her.  She‘d come from one coast to the other, leaving a huge extended family to start a life here with our father who‘d not been so fortunate.  She was good to us all, patient and soft spoken and tough where it counted.  When she lost all her memories, I began to let go, preparing.  We kept up our visits with Dad at the house, a difficult man though he’d always and continued to be, until his well-being was more than could be handled throughout the week.  

We let go now another thread in the skein of our lives and go on.     

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I am proud of my oldest son.  He has been dealing with a distant relative of sorts who, after ignoring him for six months, has recently been attempting to hold him partially, erroneously  responsible for their distance.  He has held is ground, unwavering in his position and recognized his autonomy.  He has thought out each response, each reply and measured his reaction to their folly.  He has come both to his father and I for advice and I have offered him the tools with which to think for himself.  It was a difficult thing to answer when we asked, "Mom, is life always going to be this hard?"  And I had to answer him honestly.  I could not deny him the truth that life is full of obstacles and heartache and frustration.  But I was able to say too, that in knowing how to handle life's curve balls, you can better determine the ease with which you transition through it.  In the end he hugged me, told me he loved me, and I had to let a bit more of the baby faced boy go.  He is growing up.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Roughly three weeks ago I lost my keys.  By the time I discovered they were missing I had lost track of days and  the ability to retrace all my steps.  After fruitless nights and weekends looking in ridiculous places inside, I had to assume they'd been lost outside in the snow on my walk to work.

The key chain contained timeworn and true, original keys to my parents house. and a special key, made by my father, which spoke of his genius in fashioning useful tools out of found objects.  He'd made it for a funky lock on their back porch.  There is a tide of emotions in those keys. 

There were keys to my sisters house.  We grew up having free entry into our parents house at any time and my mother made sure we always had a key.  She trusted us immensely, and my sister has done the same.  Her key was differentiated from all the rest by the name "Mexico" stamped on one side. 

Lastly, were my own keys.  An automatic opener (what a pain in the ass to replace) keys to our place, and all those plastic nuisances that make shopping marginally convenient.  But it was the key chain picture of my son which bothered me most.  There was something about his little plastic face laying in the snow, being run over by tires, that made me ache a little. 

I imagined all the ways in which the keys would be ignored, or dealt with.  None of them involved someone going out of their way (who does THAT anymore) one thought had someone walking around the neighborhood looking for their free vehicle by way of panic button.  I realize that was likely a stretch. You might imagine my excitement then, when my husband handed me the keys on Wednesday and told me how they'd been found. 

The keys had been discovered in a mailbox.  The owner of that mailbox walks in the neighborhood and is friendly with the crossing guard at the elementary school.  Thinking she might know the child from the picture, he brings the keys to her.  She immediately recognizes my son, and flags my husband down. 

No one had to take the time.  No one had to put thought into finding the rightful owner.  We are all busy, preoccupied, jaded in our own ways large or small about the order of the world.  The fact that through a series of otherwise simple steps, my keys were returned to me though, is a beautiful thing.  It renewed my faith in human kindness and was a great lesson for my children about the value of small kindnesses. 

I wrote a thank you note to (Judy) the crossing guard, and asked her to pass along my thank you to the mailbox owner. 
I am looking looking through the marred and aged lenses of my glasses while sitting atop crossed legs that ache from under use.  I struggle to put words to the buzz in my head and remind myself not to clench my teeth lest they fracture.  In my glass for my soul should be water but is wine while waiting for a pie to bake.  I feel a small mess but I am alive and without right to complaint.  I make my daily deals with the fates with greater control than is easy to admit.  I am growing older but I do have that and this sadness that I feel for random losses around me is misplaced.  Were I, after all, laying bent at deaths door, I would relish the taste of another day, another word spoken, another chance.  I cannot let that go to waste.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Photographs

I love those moments when something becomes crystal clear, the moment, or person or place is unquestionably real and present.  I suppose if I were a practicing Buddist I might experience them more, but I prefer serendipty.

I have never been a fan of posing for a photo, but I am less a fan of those candid shots where my mouth hangs open, or my eyes are half closed.  I have relented in recent years, to smiling for a camera, especially with my boys who some day will no longer be children and who will have lives of their own.  Sometimes, I see myself as an old woman looking back and wondering if any of it really happened.  Was any of it real?  I will have these photos to jog, if I am lucky, a struggling memory.

In photos I can see that which I miss when looking at an object, or in the mirror.  So often I am harsh of my enviornment, or my study of such.  A photo allows me an objective view that I would otherwise miss.  Perhaps this isn't living to some.  I am intersted in knowing other's perspective of this.

I have been looking through photos which belonged to my parents.  It is sad on the one hand because so many are not marked and so the history is lost.  But it is lovely on another because clearly, these people lived and breathed a life of their own.  There are bits of drama, play, romanticism.  I am here, because two people met during the war, fell in love, had a life, birthed life.

In these cold and wintery months, I hope to bring these photos to new life.  To look at them with a new perspective, to realize a life lived, and lives still ripe with opportunity because of them.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rest In Peace Major Dick Winters.  May there exist for you, a place that you may be with your band of brothers.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

Nothing much changes unless you want it to.  And then, it doesn't take the imagined magic of turning over the calendar to make it so.  Life will  always be what we make it; how we handle the diversity large or small which any of us may face.

Most of us mark our life with events on a calendar and I try to imagine doing otherwise.  What would happen if we didn't know how old we were, or we forgot to experience the heartbreak each time we passed a traumatic event over and over again?

I recently watched a Twighlight Episode the other night about residents of a retirement home, one of which believes he has found the secret of youth in childhood games.  That episode reminded me that we age pretty quickly when we start believing that we are "too old" to do those things which bring us simple, pure joy.  When small things no longer make us laugh.  When we no longer pause to feel the sunshine on our face, or hold our hands out to the rain.

May we all remember to make the time to feel the sunshine on our face, take a walk and smell the air of each season, and play with youthful attitude. 

Happy New Year!