I’m getting really close to a year since my dad died. This July is also the 3 year mark from when my mom died. Today, I’m working towards emptying out their house so that we can get it on the market. Well, I’ve actually been working on it for almost a year, but it’s been very slow going.
My mom kept everything, and she kept everything in tip top condition. She kept the boxes in which things came. All of her collectibles. All of her gadgets. She even kept boxes for hair dryers or hair curlers. She did her best to make sure that everything would last as long as possible. She did a good job because most of these things outlasted her.
Before my parents moved out of the house where they had lived for nearly 40 years, they had a tag sale and did a pretty good job of downsizing. Even after that, there was still a good deal of stuff left over, and that’s what I’m trying to get rid of. But how do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of? It’s all important, at least in some way, right?
Every time that I have made the drive over to the house, the moment I turn the key on the lock and walk through the front door, it’s as if I’ve taken a step back in time. I’ve stepped into some kind of time capsule and in that time capsule, time seems to be suspended. Even though I know that time is passing, I seem to be in a state of suspended animation and when I leave, after hours rifling through stuff, I find that it’s like stepping into a casino, there’s no sense of time and how fast it’s passing.
I walk through that door and I smell my mom. I look around and it’s almost as if I can picture them both sitting there. Mom wasn’t even there a year before she died. In fact, she died about a year after they closed on the house. In all of her life, she was a homeowner for a grand total of 12 months, barely. But the furniture is the same as it was at their old house. The pictures are the same. Everything looks the same and the only thing that’s missing is them.
There have been times that I’ve fought the urge to call out for them. It just feels like they should be there. It doesn’t feel right without them and at the same time, I realize the need to unload this place. In some ways, it has become a shrine of sorts. I can drive to the cemetery where mom and dad are buried, but this is a different kind of tomb. There still remains here a hint of who they are.
And these are some of the reasons that I need to get rid of the place. Although it was less than a year that Mom was there and a few years that Dad was there, the place is full of memories, and to be frank, most of the memories really suck. My mom died in this place. Every time I walk by the place where her hospital bed had stood, it nearly sends shivers up my spine. It’s brutal.
There comes a point in one’s life where they need to move on. I heard a line in a movie today, you can’t control where you’ve come from but you can control where you’re going. I have had no control over what’s happened in the past, but I can control how I respond, react, and deal with it. Part of that dealing is moving on, not in a way that says I’ve forgotten all of it, but in a way that allows me to move past it, rather than dwelling on it.
Yes, in some ways, this house has become a shrine, a place where I can go to remember my parents. I can’t have that anymore. They are gone and I need to remember them with more positive things than this house. One day, I will look back in relief that I have unloaded this place. In the meantime, I will savor the smells, the furniture, the pictures, and wait for the day when I won’t have to face it any longer. What I have of my parents lives on within me, I don’t need a house to remind me of that. I will be glad to rid myself of some of these unhappy memories and what lives on will be things that can more pleasantly be passed on to my kids.
I’m looking forward to having this behind me, and one day it will be.