Good bye to the House, but not to the Memories

Last week, Tim, Sam and I flew up to Maryland to pack up things from Flossie’s house that would be coming to Florida.  Her home sold the first day the realtor listed as a preview to something “coming soon”.  She received two full price offers, which is a huge testament to her and her ability to keep her 18 year old home current and not dated looking.  We had 2 days to pack things up and fill a POD that would bring the things to their new home with us.

IMG_6262

As we walked in, it looked bare bones.  All furniture there, but ready to be staged for listing.  All of her “things”, pictures, notes, stuff that makes a house a home, were gone.  All carefully packed by Tim’s sister and husband and son, and put away to help the house look generic, to appeal to a variety of buyers.  To me my first thought was that the house looked and felt lonely, and sad.

 

When we visited, the oldest two kids got the sewing room and the trundle bed, the others slept in this room in sleeping bags and never complained once.  It looks so bare without all our travel stuff.

Whenever we would visit, the oldest two kids got the sewing room and the trundle bed, the others slept in this room in sleeping bags and never complained once. It looks so bare without all our travel stuff.

This kitchen always had something delicious ready for us to eat, either on the counter, stove or table or all the above.  It looked so empty.

This kitchen always had something delicious ready for us to eat, either on the counter, stove or table or all the above. It looked so empty.

We set to work, going through the boxes already packed, Katie, showing me personal things Flossie might like here.  Disassembling furniture, wrapping all in clear plastic sheeting to protect it and then using lots of blankets to add cushioning.  It was with much love that we all worked, taking care as we handled Flossie’s precious things.  There were a couple of boxes  in the basement, packed years ago by Flossie, labeled, “Cedar Chest”.  These things were no longer in a cedar chest, as years ago, she had refinished her own cedar chest and her mother’s cedar chest and gave one to me and one to Tim’s sister, Katie for Christmas.  We opened those two cardboard boxes to a treasure of well used baby shoes, in a variety of sizes.  There was a pretty little confirmation dress, that I am sure was Katie’s, a baby bunting, crocheted blankets.  It was yet another moment I felt so much love for this lady.  She had saved these things for years, tucked in a safe cedar chest, then upon giving that away, carefully folded and packed into boxes, labeled for herself in her own hand, for us to find.  The blankets that Katie didn’t want to take, I brought home, for what, I am not sure, but I just couldn’t leave them to go to goodwill, not yet.  There was a pretty cream colored crib sized crocheted blanket, it had no baby designs on it, so I am going to wash it up, and it will be a great lap blanket for Flossie to use when we go out in the cooler evenings.  Did I ever tell you that Flossie and her husband were hoping for babies to come for 9 years!  She had a long time to hope and pray for little ones to come.  Then it was 7 years after Tim she got to have a little girl.  This, for me, makes these items so much more important.

 

In the bins in the basement I went through her sewing room things.  There were so many projects and fabrics and patterns  that she was working on.  A pair of trousers for herself, all pinned up, ready to cut and hem.  A fabric padded baby book for an expected great grand baby. Terry towel bibs she was making for her friend’s adult handicapped granddaughter.  This is the kind of lady I get to have as my mother in law.  She was going to learn how to quilt, had a pattern and the chosen fabrics all together in a bundle.  There were pages out of magazines tucked in her recipes, some with notes she wrote in the margins, “tried this Thanksgiving 2010, next time leave out the lemon.”  It is a very strange thing to be going through there personal belongings of someone you knew so well.  We all have little things that mean something to us, but to others they might seem like nothing.   I was filled with a strange sense of being very protective of her and her “things”.

 

I enjoyed walking by a room as we were loading the POD in the driveway, and seeing Tim and his sister sitting, she on the floor packing something, and Tim on the chair,  remembering, and smiling at the memory.  Saturday was a good day.  I really felt we were in a sacred place.  Sunday was good too, but Saturday, Katie was there with us the whole day and I felt a sense of camaraderie as we worked together for Flossie.  By Sunday evening, we had the house empty except for the few things Katie would keep and the things that would be stored or donated.  Sadly, there had to be some things donated, but I feel that in those things, people will find treasures and be so excited to put them to use in their lives.  Since we finished up  early, we decided to forego our planned flight home on Monday evening, and spend Monday driving her car down to Florida.

Sam, my model, showing how empty the kitchen is now.

Sam, my model, showing how empty the kitchen is now.

Our lovely model enjoying the wide open spaces.

Our lovely model enjoying the wide open spaces.

Filling the POD.  A great way to move.

Filling the POD. A great way to move.

 

We got the house all tidied back up Sunday evening, filled got some road trip snacks and went to bed early.  As we walked through the now mostly empty house, I felt like the house was going to be alright, I thought it would be getting a family and people, and life and fun.  It made me happy to think about this, the future of this house that had meant so much to us over the years.  It gave me comfort it wouldn’t sit empty any more.  It’s time of mourning was over.  As we pulled out of the driveway at 6:00am Monday morning, I stopped the car in the front and took a good long look at it, the house that so many times was full of sunshine each time we walked through the door, full of good food, fun activities, Orioles games, play dough, green plastic army men, donuts, hot chocolate, puzzles, a basement, and most of all a lady who loved each of us always, never judged, who did things for us because she wanted to and who always said, “you can have anything you want, but my money!”  I got a lump in my throat and told Sam it was a happy home while Grandma lived there and I was glad it was getting a family again.  He looked at me like I was so weird and said, “its just a house, mom, we have Grandma with us.”  Out of the mouth of a 14 year old boy, he was right, the memories are in my heart, in our hearts, and we are so lucky this lady is still with us, time to create new memories.  Now I just have to figure out how to meld a whole POD full of cool antique furniture into our full house!:)  On to new things!

Isn't it a pretty house?

Isn’t it a pretty house?

 

One of my favorite pictures of me with two of my many favorite people.  I'm so happy we get to have her with us for a while.

One of my favorite pictures of me with two of my many favorite people. I’m so happy we get to have her with us for a while.

 

3 comments

  1. Stephie says:

    I definitely think homes hold memories and feelings within their bones. Especially when all the stuff is taken away, you can feel upon walking in, if it is a house or a home. I loved grandmas house and had so many wonderful memories there. Grandma is an incredible lady. She was, and still is. In her old age she can’t give in as many ways and yet she still tries to give in the ways she can. She is lucky and deserving to be under your watchful and loving care. You and everyone at home are bringing life to the end of her journey, and that is so much more than most people get.

  2. Chrissy says:

    Well now I’m a puddle of tears. This is a beautiful tribute to such an important building in our family’s history. I have so many happy memories there, and that house really signified Grandma’s independence. She bought it, improved it, and maintained it all without Grandpa. She made a life there, with lots of friends and a busy agenda full of service to others, and she always made it SO much fun whenever we came to visit.

    What a blessing that you could go through all of those personal things, (things that often don’t get “gone through” until their owner has passed away), and still get to go home to enjoy a little bit more life with her. Sam was right about that.

Leave a Reply