Tuesday, November 29, 2011
All the Old, Familiar Places
There was a time many years ago when I was struggling to find my way.
I had trouble holding on to a job, my physical health was bad and my mental condition was even worse.
I was so upset that I went to my mother looking for some kind of guidance.
“What’s going to happen to me?” I asked her in desperation.
She paused for a moment, clearly upset at my state of mind.
“Well, you know,” she said, “when I die, you’ll get money for this house.”
My mother meant well, of course—she always did--and I know she was trying to comfort me. But those words really shook me up. Did my mother have to die before I could make something out of myself? If I were making a list of the lowest points in my life that conversation would certainly be in the top five.
My mother and father are both gone now, I’ve found something like a career, and today we finally sold our parents’ house.
After all the work, all the cleaning, all the worry and aggravation, everything came down to a few hours at a local bank. We signed a stack of papers, like generals putting their names to a peace treaty, my sister and I handed over our house keys, and it was all over.
The house that had been in our family for over 60 years, the place where we were raised, is no longer ours.
After the closing my sister and I went back to the house to say goodbye to our neighbors and take one last look at our home. We took some flyers off the front steps and brought them to the backyard to throw them away.
“Do you realize we’re trespassing now?” I asked my sister.
I’m feeling so many different emotions right now. The first is relief, now that the sale is over, and then guilt because I feel relieved. I feel sad about giving up the house, but our family isn't there any more. It really is time to move on.
We did the walk through on Sunday with the new owner and while I waited for my sister to pick me up, I heard Jimmy Durante on the radio singing “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
It’s a song from my parents’ day about holding on to memories and the lyrics seemed so appropriate.
“I’ll find you in the morning sun and when the night is new. I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”
I wonder what the new owner will do with the place. I've seen people do some incredible things with the old houses in the neighborhood--rip out the insides, pave over the gardens, or add an outdoor porch. Whatever happens, we'll have no say in the matter.
When we were leaving, I stopped to look around and make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything. I spotted something on the refrigerator and when I got close I saw it was magnet with the image of the Virgin Mary and the words “God Bless the Lenihan Family.”
I slipped it into my coat pocket and now it’s on the refrigerator in my new home.
I see how blessed we were to have that house, to have our parents for as long as we did, and to have so many great memories. Now it’s time for someone else to make that house into a home.