It sold. The house I came home from the hospital to and called home for 49 years. My mom signed the papers around Halloween. We started this journey last Christmas. What an emotional saga. To rent a dumpster and throw away mostly junk but a whole lot of memories. Cleaning out attics and a basement full of stuff that probably should have been cleaned out years ago.
Then finding a location for my mom to move and discovering that in order to get the best apartment it meant moving now. So what was going to be a 6 month process had now become a 2 month process. January and February were spent deciding what to take and where it would go. And then moving it. Moving from a 5 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom apartment was no small challenge! But on moving day everything fit exactly where she designed it to fit. My mom is good like that!
Then came the process of cleaning out the house. First each of us children cleaning out our rooms and taking the last of our stuff that was still stored at Mom’s house. Then organizing family selections of favorite items and tokens of the house we shared life in. Thankfully we are the kind of family that can do that with no discord. Mom happy when someone would choose something else that would then stay in the family and continue to be loved and remembered. Grandad’s hall tree here. A beautiful turquoise vase there. Potraits of us kids to each of us.
Next, the challenge of choosing the best company to handle the tag sale. Watching mom’s house get deconstructed from a home full of treasures and memories to a glorified yard sale with hundreds of people milling through buying memories from their own past spent in mom’s house at Christmas parties or Sunday school class gatherings or neighborhood picnics or basement parties. And strangers looking for a bargain or dealers looking for underpriced valuables. Necessary steps to reach an empty house ready for the market.
Probably the worst step was putting the For Sale sign up in the yard. A visible and sad sign to all that the Thompson’s would no longer live at or own the property on Windsor Drive. Where neighborhood kids played basketball on our two goal driveway court. Where the big iron bell rang across the neighborhood to call the Thompson kids and dog home for dinner. Where more UNC baseball games were watched then can be counted – with both tears of joy and tears of defeat shed. Where grand babies came to spend a week at “Camp Grandma” in the summer. Where many a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast was cooked and devoured. A house now empty waiting to find its next owners. Hoping that would happen sooner rather than later.
And then finally, after several necessary home repairs and lots of conversations with the realtor a serious buyer falls in love with our house. A couple from Ohio that was slated to look at 8 different houses and stops after seeing ours. Someone who will love our house almost as mush as we have. Who will give it a facelift but who can look at it and see the attention to detail my mom put in to the designing and building or every inch of that house. Who promised to invite my mom over for dinner once they have finished their renovations, which tickled my mom to death. People my mom can feel good about entrusting to our wonderful neighbors that have supported her through the ups and downs of life.
Many of you have been through this journey. My mom has done an amazing job this past year dealing with one of the hardest transitions in life. She had always said “you’ll take me out of here in a pine box!”. And now she and her cat, Patches, have settled into a happy life at Mountain Top retirement community and now enjoys not having to worry about any more who to call when a leak occurs or the AC goes out. Surrounded by friends with as reduced stress as is possible for an Octogenarian.
As I watched my own bedroom go through the process of deconstruction described above I marveled at how grateful I am to have had a home that shaped and formed me and provided so much joy, but also a few tears, along the way and more precious memories than I can recall. And yet, I have been ok with saying goodbye. It served us well when we needed it. But now it’s time to provide memories for someone else. What I thought would be great grief and sadness turned in to a process of gratitude and peace.
On the last night my mom spent in the house we hugged and shed a few tears and then she looked around and said, “this has been a good home to raise my children in. I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s time for it to be a good home for someone else now.”
May you know the joy of living in a home and not just a house or a condo or an apartment. May you know the support of family, good neighbors, and friends when you and yours are going through a major life transition. May you recognize in all of it the gift of love and support given to us as a gift from God.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Lory Beth