My grandmother passed away almost five years ago. In some ways that feels like a long time and in other ways not so much. Three of my four grandparents had passed away by the time I was five years old so I spent the majority of my childhood with just one grandparent – my Grandmama.
It’s taken a long time for everything to be sorted out and organized with the estate and the final piece of the puzzle happened on Saturday. Our family held an auction with lots of items from the estate, including the home and land that it sits on. We’ve all had time to make claim to certain things that we wanted to and were able to keep and the rest was put up for auction.
We all knew that this was coming. We did it before when my grandfather passed away (although I was too young to remember too many of the details) to sell much of his farm equipment. It’s strange how these things work though. It’s like you know rationally why you are doing a thing. You are confident that it needs to be done. But your heart still hurts doing it. That’s how Saturday was for us. Closure, but pain.
Grieving the Loss of a Childhood Home
There are so Many Sweet Memories Tied Up in this Place
This place is so special to me. It’s the place where we had sleepovers when we were little. It’s the place I learned how to make French toast – Grandmama always made it for us the mornings after we’d spent the night. It’s the place Granddaddy would call us up to his knee and give us a piece of candy when we’d gotten in trouble with Grandmama (funny how grandparents can spoil you like that).
It’s the place we climbed trees and ran around the yard. (The yard was huge and backed up to part of the farm.) After which, we would come in for crushed ice or walk down the street for an orange sherbet push-up to eat on the porch swing. That of course was the same porch swing that we somehow managed to make fall down once.
Every fourth of July, we’d sit out with the neighbors to watch the parade. We’d cookout and play the whole day and join the same neighbors in the yard for the town’s fireworks. We walked to the post office to get the mail and listened to stories from Grandmama’s teaching days at the town school we passed by on the way.
At Christmas, we would admire Mr. Jack’s lights. He lived next door and truly had the best lights in the town. The patio would be filled with sweets. All the best things were saved for Christmas and each family member had their own dishes to contribute. We made sure to get to bed early because in the morning, we knew that the living room would be filled with gifts from Santa. Until the one Christmas when I couldn’t sleep of course and found out the truth about the man with the long beard. I wasn’t surprised, but made a promise not to tell my siblings.
On Easter, we took pictures in the front yard in our Sunday best. And when we were old enough, we practiced our roller blading on the long driveway and under the carport. We ate grapes right off the vine and helped pick weeds away from the marigolds in Grandmama’s flower bed. We painted with water and colored with markers. We laughed and cried and had the absolute best of times.
Grandmama’s house was full of love. I am so thankful to have lived close by and to have been able to spend so much of my childhood in that home. I never once doubted that she loved us and would have done anything for us.
But it’s Not the Same Place That it Was
It’s funny how a place can be so familiar and foreign at the same time. No one has lived in Grandmama’s house for years. Grandmama had Alzheimer’s and spent several years in an assisted living home close to us once she needed full-time care.
Houses lose something when the people move out. The stuff might stay there (and boy did it ever stay there). But over time, the dust starts to settle. The old bones of the house get tired.
That’s what happened to Grandmama’s house. My mom has worked hard to try to take care of it, but it’s not the same when no one lives there. I’ve been back to the house several times over the years to help clean things out, make sure the property stayed secure, and so on. It’s strange to go back to a home that was once so full of life and love and adventure and see it empty.
I immediately burst into tears going into the house on Saturday. It’s like having your private places just on display for everyone to walk all over. To see in less than it’s glory and to value without any knowledge of the special memories.
The Goodbye Feels so Permanent – Because it Is.
After all was said and done, we drove away from the house one last time. In some ways, it felt like we could finally exhale. The sorting out was done and we could finally move on. But in other ways it was just really hard. It’s hard to say goodbye to a place that was so special knowing that you won’t be coming back to it. It’s not our place anymore.
So, we just remember the good times. And there were some really good times. I am forever thankful for all the love that was poured out in that house. There are such special memories there that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Goodbye, old house. I miss you already.
Have you ever had to say goodbye to a place you love? What was it like for you?