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.