For months now I have been living in two worlds; caregiver and remodeler. Tomorrow my remodel life will end when I make settlement on my Dad's house. My Dad died in December and I have been upgrading and refurbishing the house, dealing with carpenters, contractors and landscapers; making it ready for sale. Now it is ready and I am not.
Walking through the house tonight for the last time is walking through time. The echoes of a lifetime surround me. In every room I hear the childish laughter of my brothers and myself. The kitchen brings to mind the everyday sounds of pots and pans banging, cabinets opening and closing as my mother prepared dinner.
Standing in the living room brings the smell of a freshly cut pine tree and the memories of over a half a century of christmas' past. From my grandmother all the way down to my grandchild, five generations of my family have, at one time or another, called this house home and my mind's eye sees every one of them.
Memories of tree forts, swimming pools, camp-outs and flashlight tag emerge as I roam around the backyard and wander to the edge of the woods. The property is only an acre but my child's eye remembers it as miles long, a place where exploration could last from morning till night.
I have saved the hardest spot for last. The basement was my father's refuge from the world and his place to create. Others have said the heart of a home is the kitchen but here is my heart. I learned my love of woodworking here,watching Dad cut,shape,turn,saw and build. I can hear the saws, smell the wood. I remember the stories he shared of his father, a wonderful woodcarver and also a talented woodworker. My dad and I bonded here--daddy's little girl and her knight in shining armor. This was our place. As he shared his knowledge of wood with me I shared my hopes, dreams, good times and bad times with him.
Sitting on the basement stairs, 4 steps up...like always, I can no longer hold back the tears. It's like saying good-by all over again. I cry for the loss of my father - the first man I ever loved - I cry for the loss of my brother who took his own life less than 3 years ago - I cry for my husband and all he's been through - but mostly I think I cry for me - for everything I've lost - for everything that has been so hard to bear this year.
Life has moved on and I must move on with it. I must dry my tears, take a deep breath and leave this house for the last time. It is just a house now, a new beginning for another family. New carpets, new paint, new appliances all await new loves, new generations, new memories.
I sit in my car and look at the house. The rooms are clean, the porch and front walk is swept, the outside front lights are beckoning a new welcome. I wipe the tears from my face, put my car in gear and drive down the darkened street, away from the past and forward to the future.