My parent's house sold this week, a sad event to be sure. But we have had some time to prepare for this transition because Mom and Dad have been living together in a care facility for almost a year and a half. My 3 sisters and I cleaned out their house, had a garage sale and put the house on the market this past summer.
I have been back in that sad house several times over the past months when I go to Nebraska to visit. I slept on the floor of that empty house, full of memories, one weekend. That was hard and I only did it once. I have said my goodbyes to our family home in the span of those months when we worked on it and when it sat empty with a "For Sale" sign in the yard. It has become just a building.
On one of my most recent visits I stopped but did not go inside. Instead I walked around the yard where my folks spent so much time and energy. Yes the yard still has a hold on me. I touched the little spot in the front yard that Dad had once helped me "garden" when I was 8 or 9 years old. I transplanted wild violets and though Dad warned me they might not survive the move, we nursed them to bloom. Then I picked the flowers for Mom.
I touched the clothes line posts, the cherry tree where our kids picked cherries for Grammie, the lamp post that stands where the old birch tree used to grow beside the swing set. I walked down the front corner embankment where once I jumped, on the run to Grandma's house, and fell. I still have a scar on my side! And, yes, our paternal grandparents lived on the corner across the street. Another reason our ties to this neighborhood are so strong.
But time stops for no man, or woman. My only connections to this place have been my birth family and my memories. My life has been somewhere else for a long time. I will always love my family and treasure those memories, good and bad. But the house is just a building now. A house that will hopefully be someone else's home someday. I have a family of my own, as do my sisters. We still have Mom and Dad with us in this time and space. And life goes on, as it should.
I hope the home that Patrick and I have created in our place in the world is rich with memories for our kids. And in the end it will be the memories that will help to carry them forward, too.
I have been thinking a lot about "place" and our connections to all the places in our lives, how we interact with place and are a part of place and can take comfort from those places we love. Here are some recent beautiful words from author, Mary Pipher. This is part of an editorial she wrote for OP ED NEWS.COM. Her thoughts on place have helped me. Thank you, Mary.
"Place by definition, is geographical. A real place is filled with stories and sensation, possibilities for action and engagement and opportunities for contemplation and bliss. Life has always been difficult but this present moment is difficult in entirely new ways. The craziness is in the culture, but each of us must find our own answers for how to be as happy and whole as possible. The place to begin is by being present where you are. Breathe deeply, look around your surroundings, touch something, and make something good happen in the place where you are." -Mary Pipher