My husband, Peter, is looking around our empty living room.
“I’ll always have good memories of this place.”
“I will too,” I assure him.
We are packing up the last of our possessions and heading across the country in a few days. We won’t be coming back.
This is the home Peter bought as a single person, when he retired a bit early. He wasn’t sure how much he could afford, but he bought this condo in the town where his sister, Lori, lived, sight unseen.
Lori drove by the house and sent him a text. “Buy it!” she told him. Lori was his bossy older sister, and so he did. He never regretted it.
But now Lori is gone, and we have decided to move closer to my parents and Peter’s family. All our furniture has been sent ahead of us, and we have been more or less camping in our home. It has not been as hard as I feared, sleeping on a futon and eating off a few leftover plates, as Peter painstakingly prepares the house for sale. Peter ran a summer camp as a young man, and this home is like his campsite; he wants to leave it better than he found it.
And Peter is sad. He has not even seen our new place yet, so he is moving into a foggy, unknown future, and I know that is hard for him. I took some pictures when I was there, with our furniture in place. I told him how quiet it was, how there were church bells ringing in every direction, how friendly everyone was, and how nice the grocery store was. Peter believes me, but it’s not quite real. This place is real, and so is his sadness in leaving.
Change brings a combination of sadness and excitement. Peter and I are both a little sad but both—in our way—looking forward to the move.
“I will enjoy it once I get there,” Peter assures me. He knows himself, and he knows what he likes. Most of all, he knows we enjoy our life together and we will be together.
And, while I am excited, I wonder how many more new homes, if any, I will have in my life.
I was there when my grandmother moved into her final home. She was 99, and her health had finally begun to slip. She moved into a place that, while it was not called a nursing home, certainly was. There was a bed and a dresser, a handful of personal items, a couple of chairs for visitors, and little else in her room. She had to know (as we all did) that this was the last place she would live.
I felt the sadness and the finality of it, but that feeling did not have long to settle because, as my grandmother was wheeled into the room, she looked out the window at a brilliant red maple tree.
“Oh!” my grandmother said, “Would you look at that tree!”
Our eyes left the drab little room, and we looked out at the tree, caught in the afternoon light, a brilliant blaze of red outside her window.
I think that is how she got to be 100 years old.
My grandma always looked for the good in change, even at the end, even when the change could not be a harbinger of anything but the end. Because even at the end, there was a brilliant red maple tree to look forward to. There was something beautiful. There were still good memories to be made.
Till next time,