I traveled. alot. Made dozens of phone calls. Did trouble shooting across the miles. But still, it wasn't working. They needed more support. He did, she did. They could no longer help each other, they could not help themselves.
After just four weeks in their apartment, we were moving them again, to an apartment in a different area of the same facility. They call it Personal Care, I think of it as assisted living. My parents are now surrounded by support, by loving people, by two rooms full of their favorite chairs and furniture. They have meals and housekeeping and laundry and nursing supervision in their new nest. I think they are settling in, content, relieved. And so am I. For them.
But I must tend to the old nest. It is full of boxes and newspapers and lots of stuff, yet it has never been more empty. And there are discussions with auctioneers and realtors about sales and parking and antiques and food stands and appraisals. Decisions must be made. Soon. Much too soon for me. (We only moved them yesterday. Really.) A question keeps coming from every direction... what do you want from the house? Always that same question... what do you want from the house? I know they are talking about "stuff", Grandma M's china, Uncle Eugene's chair, the freezer. But here's what I think of when I ponder that question:
What do you want from the house...?
- I want a one foot square piece of wallpaper from my own wild blue flowered room. The one where I wrote the name of a certain 6th grade boy.
- I want the sound of serious pounding and voices rising through the floor boards from the shop where my Dad and son (pick one, they all reveled in shop time with Grandpa) are creating something.
- I want the view from the kitchen window, Lancaster County countryside at it's finest, with a bluebird box in the foreground..(which didn't quite make it into this picture.)
- I want my old phone number. It was so much fun...the end was 7770. How cool is that?
- I want the feeling of the cool damp cement basement floor on my 8 year old bare feet. ( I don't want the feeling of stepping on a black shelled water beetle. Crunch. Shudder...)
- I want the fifty foot blue spruce in the back yard with the hollowed out place where a girl could sit and think. But not in bare feet.
- I want a door. One solid wooden door. The house is full of real doors, darkly stained and glossy, with heavy-duty locks and shiny glass knobs. I'd like to hang one in my house somewhere and know that every now and then, when I want to, when I somehow need to, I could walk back through it like the wardrobe to Narnia, to visit The House. Not the empty nest it is now, but the house as I remember it. I want a door.
But it is not to be. Nothing on my list will make the cut...for they cannot be cut from the fabric that is The House. Yet I will carry them with me. I will gather these memories and dozens more; they are mine alone. No one will auction them off or give them away or toss them into the dumpster. I will chose to walk through those (real) doors in the coming weeks and sort the "stuff" and make the piles and wash the dishes. I may spend some barefoot moments, (I didn't remember my own extreme barefootedness in days gone by until I wrote this tonight), and I will be where my feet are, some days in that empty quiet house and others in my not-yet-empty, noisy house. I choose to cherish yesterday, while living today, every day. Even while I'm clearing a stack of newspapers from Uncle Eugene's (uncomfortable) Windsor chair.