Sunday, July 20, 2014
A Visit to My House Growing Up
I thought it would look different than how i remembered it. I had lived there for 20 years, but have been moved out of it for 15 years. Besides the oxygen tanks, medical supplies, oven, and a few minor changes, it looked the same. The dishes were still stacked the same in the cupboard. Tooth pick holders, table cloths, napkins, and the big ceramic turkey still were in the china cabinet. The pink bathroom counter and the harvest gold kitchen counter were still there. The Sweet Violet salt shaker had salt and was by the stack of Sweet Violet bowls that were used for our bridal shower. The same rock and brick were used to keep the shed door closed and the patio furniture was all stacked outside. The Japanese Maple was the same size. The green carpet going downstairs seemed just as worn out as when I moved out. The house, especially the kitchen, seemed smaller, but clothes were still hung in the closets and commonly used phone numbers and addresses (from 12 years ago) were still taped to the inside cupboard by my mom's captain chair in the dining room. It was surprisingly the same. Time seemed to have slowed down in that house. Part of George seemed to have just stopped living when my mom died over 10 years ago.
Of course, some things were different. Her gardens were taken over by weeds, the pond was all filled in, Sammy wasn't there, the deck railing was wobbly, the picnic table was rotten, the arbor's paint was peeling, and the trellis was broken.
It always amazes me too, how when someone dies, everything is just left in its place. Cell phones are still plugged in getting charged, cups are in the sink, mail continues to be delivered. It was like George could have walked in at any time, but he didn't. He won't. Ever again. There was a worn picture of my mom sitting at the spot that George spent his days- at the kitchen table, across from the TV. Mike told me that he would switch the picture out every now and then, but he always had one near. Her purse was just tucked away in a drawer, with her things still in it. Her wedding dress still hung in the closet with her denim jacket that she had decorative pins on the lapel. Life just continues on. It doesn't even seem to pause. When I heard about George and was trying to wade through my feelings of grief and regret, I had four kids trying to play with me. Life didn't even pause to let me process how I felt. And now Mike, as he tries to figure out what to do with his dad's estate, is left with dealing with the responsibility of his life that just keeps going and dealing with the responsibility that comes with the death of his father and a life that has ceased.
I am grateful for a chance to walk through my childhood house once again. Jered, Mike, and I talked about many memories, smiled at the same ol' same ol', and a few random things got me choked up. Things that took me off guard. I hope I can help Mike if he needs it. Clearing out the house will be quite a chore. It is packed full of stuff. And, as i walked around it, i reminded myself that it is just stuff. I don't need everything that belonged to my mom. It isn't her. It is just stuff. A few small things, like part of her wedding ring that she absolutely loved and stared at all the time, will be perfect. It is small, but brings me so many fond memories of my mom and George. Perfect. Pictures don't take up a lot of room and a few sweet violet dishes will be great. We are going to try to get the arbor that George built for their wedding back to our house. That will make me smile and remember them as well. Otherwise, it is just stuff- old, smokey, smelly stuff that won't bring George or my mom back.