Endings

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week: Endings

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO (OR MORE) THAT SHOW ENDINGS OF ANY KIND.

 

Two and a half years ago, I stood in the attic above our 2 car garage.
Not quite believing what I saw…

attic copy

The sun spilling in…
Lighting up bare plywood floors.
Newly swept clean

After years of sheltering…

My babies’ wooden crib. Their toys. Books. Polly Flinders dresses. Cloth stuffed dinosaurs. Plastic dinosaurs. Rubber puzzles. Little Tykes table. Wooden blocks. Little red wagon. Doll beds. Art projects. Grade school dioramas. Paper maché dinosaur. Legos. Candy Land. Operation. Finger paintings. Luggage. Book shelves. Beds. Christmas dishes. Basketball uniforms. Flexible Flyer. Textbooks. Beckett Monthly magazine collection. Barbie clothes. Babysitter’s Club books. Lincoln Logs.

And…so…much…more.

The next day I backed out of that garage for the last time.
Headed toward a new home.

The end of one very long chapter.

 

Farewell

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #42: Farewell

forsythia

Every day is a farewell of sorts.

I am reminded of something I learned in science class years ago.
To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
For every farewell, there is a Hello.
A Welcome To sign.
A Chapter One.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a do-over.

Farewells accumulate more quickly…the older I get.
Crowding the rear view.

Perhaps blocking the front view…
…now that I have more time to notice.

This came to mind upon reading another blogger’s post today: The Art of Letting Go. The coincidence of finding this post in my inbox as I was contemplating V.J.’s challenge is probably more serendipity than coincidence.
One of those Pay Attention moments.

Farewells are often difficult. While trying to maintain connections. To people. To what is important. To who we are. It is a decision with consequences after all.

I have bid farewell many times in the last decades.

Mostly by choice…

Downsizing – thousands of farewells with every trip to Goodwill. Sale on Craig’s List. Yard sale. Donation to charity. Trash and recycling day. Even “stuff” that brought me joy. The reality of space as the priority. Realizing it was okay to let go.

Moving – from a home of 37 years. Where my marriage bloomed. Two beautiful children slept, ate, played, laughed, cried, hugged, stomped, yelled, studied, loved. And then bid farewell. A home where the grass grew tall. The trees and flowers blossomed. Glorious forsythias…a special Mother’s Day gift…flourished. Now all in the rear view.

…Also goodbye to mowing the lawn and shoveling snow. Raking leaves. Climbing stairs. Taking care of a big house.

Emptying the nest –  There was always that catch in my throat as I watched the train pull out of the station. Or the bus leave for the airport. Carrying my son, backpack in hand. My daughter, her oversized purse packed with books. Back to college. Work. A new home. In another city. I waved frantically…hopefully at the right window.  Or from the front steps of our home…as the car backed out of the driveway, shifted to drive and before I knew it, rounded the corner and disappeared. Farewell. For now.

…Also goodbye to listening for a teenage driver returning home late at night. Responsibility for raising ’em right. Laundry. Tuition.

Farewell to worry? Not so much.

First farewells – Perhaps the most etched in memory. My daughter – my oldest – at 3. Her first day at preschool. Pink corduroy pants. Flowered turtleneck. Eyes bright. Huge smile. More than ready. Sun shining that March day as I walked her into the coat cubby room. “Bye Mommy!!” A hug and a kiss. She hasn’t looked back since. A bittersweet farewell. That made perfect sense.

The most difficult farewells…the unexpected ones. Not by choice….

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When doctors started concluding office visits with “now that you’re 35…” these things happen. Which 20 years later morphed into “now that you’re menopausal” these things happen. To – finally – “autoimmune” happens. It might as well have become my middle name.

The doctors shrug. No longer look me in the eye.
Another farewell to who I used to be. What I could do.
No do-overs here; but adjustments for a new path.
Refocused.

 

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…Relationships desperately needing a shift.
Unexpectedly…no longer healthy.
Perhaps the most difficult. Challenging.
Familiar connections gone terribly wrong.
Out of my control. Into the deep end.

Leading to…Farewell.
~
Hello
Welcome To
the new chapter.

 

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Floor

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo

The theme this week is: Floor

 

Days before the sale of our home in 2016
***
Looking from part of the living room into the den…

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This floor of plywood 1 ¼” thick – covered with a carpet…supported a family…
Standing. Sitting. Running. Jumping. Crawling. Sleeping. Rolling. Walking.
Witness for more than 36 years.

Sometimes it squeaked in mysterious places at certain times,
but it never wavered for…

An infant crawling for the first time. Never minding the spit-up.
A baby, lying quietly, carefully picking out carpet lint. Fiber by fiber.
Popping it into her tiny mouth.
A toddler sprawled out “reading” a board book. And then tossing it aside for the next one.

This floor held…
Three cousins lying face down, chins propped in hands, watching television.
A sister and brother doing somersaults. Watch me mom!
Monopoly games…bank money, hotels, houses and the boy in charge of the bank.
Father and son jumping so hard the walls rattled when the Red Sox won the series in 2004.

Birthday party marching bands parading up one side and down the other.
Jump shots and slam dunks in the Michael Jordan Shoot-the-Ball hoop on a stand. Until it broke.
A young girl’s entire dance interpretation of NKOTB’s “Hangin’ Tough” including costume changes.

This floor remained sturdy when…
Standing for photos against the bifold doors: Easter. Halloween. Prom. Birthday. Group party pics. Or just because.
Teenagers collapsed in hysterics trying to master Twister.
Christmas trees were decorated.
Waiting for the gifts Santa would put beneath it.
No chimney required.

This floor supported a couch…chairs…coffee table…first hand-me-down…and then new.
Piecemeal furniture piled high with books, records, toys, magazines, framed photographs.
All steady and secure on this base for our home.

One might think a floor is just a floor.

But sometimes it isn’t.

 

Walk

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Walk

It was an adjustment, to say the least, when our youngest child left home for college. For him as well as for us.

He chose a college where it was warm…and far away from our New England town. I understood that, as I had also wanted to establish myself in a college town far from my home.

Colleges have an annual “Parents’ Weekend” in the fall. So parents can check in. And check out their kids. And kids can touch base with their parents. Our freshman son was on his own for the first time and we were grateful for the opportunity to visit.

Although not a big fan of endless parent questions…how are you?how are your classes?your roommate?is the food good?where is the library?…are you okay?, he was happy to show us around campus. He led the way. The grounds of his university were lush with greenery of all kinds. With a bridge. And a pond. In a very warm spot in Virginia. We attended these Parents’ Weekends every year, but the first one…well, that was extra special.

Conversation always flowed a bit more freely with a walk in the woods.

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father and son

 

Gathering

This post is inspired by:

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #18: Gathering

https://onewomansquest.org/2018/10/08/v-j-s-weekly-challenge-18-gathering/

Turning my attention toward the positive this week…

I am gathering source material. I like the way that sounds…source material. For a very long story about “the house” — or rather, our home, of over 36 years. As I have written about in previous posts (Nest , Photos), my husband and I downsized and moved to a condo a couple of years ago. It was probably the most exhausting thing I have ever done (besides giving birth to two 9 lb+ babies, but that didn’t take as long).

I was more than ready to move. However, our adult children (who had moved out over a decade earlier) were clearly NOT ready for us to move. Especially our daughter. Our nest was their nest, empty (of them) or not. The reality of no childhood home to return to for their (infrequent) visits was jolting. Did they try to talk us out of it? Absolutely not. But their emotional ties were evident. “Coming down the stairs on Christmas morning” together…(every single year) would come to an end. The “remember whens” without the familiar backdrop of home…hard to imagine. Our new grandson would not be able to run around in his mama’s old backyard.

On the final day before the sale, I toured the empty house on facetime with my long distance 34 year old daughter.  We shared a last look at the rooms she grew up in…and some memories of each. Both of us in tears.

I then realized the enormity of this home’s real significance in our lives. But mostly in our kids’ lives. This surprised me since I never had any deep emotional ties to my childhood homes. None at all. I could not fully understand their attachment. How deep it is.

I am going to write about those 36 1/2 years. For them. For us. For me. A story…the house that became a home and what happened. I am very curious to see what evolves.

But first I need to begin gathering my materials (after shopping at my favorite office supply store):

  • Hanging file folders. One for each year – to sort & organize.

gathering files

  • Calendars for 37 years – chronicling all our activities. Each one a diary in itself.

calendars

 

  • Photographs. Lots.

gatheringphotos

  • Journals.
  • Letters – still gathering.
  • File boxes of house receipts and info that escaped shredding.

Once gathered, let the writing begin.

And…
I am so glad I saved all this stuff!

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Scene

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by “Dutch goes the Photo”

https://dutchgoesthephoto.net/2018/08/21/tuesday-photo-challenge-scene/

The theme this week is “Scene”

One of the consequences of emptying the nest and downsizing is a scene such as this:

My (32 year old) daughter: You can throw these out, Mom.

Me: Are you sure??

Daughter: I’ll never make anything with them now. I don’t make jewelry anymore. 

Me: Are you sure?

Daughter: Yes!

Carefully designed and crafted rolls of polymer clay; originally they were small squares – each a separate color. Hours of work to combine and create. To slice up for earrings, pins and beads. From the age of 12 to 16.

Saved creations deemed irrelevant.

But preserved here nonetheless.

 

Fimo
Fimo Works in Progress – The Final Scene

 

 

 

downsizing and stuff – part 1 – the nest

Many of us are:

  1. thinking about downsizing.
  2. talking about downsizing.
  3. reading articles about how to downsize.
  4. going through stuff wondering “where did this come from?” as if it had snuck in when we weren’t looking. Or better yet “why did I buy this?” and having no answer to “why did I keep 6 shovels or this roll of ‘perfectly good’ rug scrap for 30 years?” [My favorite – “I swear these hangers are reproducing overnight. I keep finding more.”]
  5. purging piles of stuff or at least trying to.

And what is stuff? Well, everything is stuff. The hardest stuff to deal with….are those once precious belongings or mementos and, yes, diaries and journals that we hold on to for….”later.” Boxes and bags gathering dust in remote corners of houses and apartments and basements and attics; the stacks increasing year by year. The packing tape yellowed, cracking & falling off. This process is often jump started when adult children move out. Really move out.

The thing is…the term “empty nest” is misleading. The nest is not empty when the kids who inhabited said nest leave all their stuff behind…crammed in the nest they flew out of. Hmmm… That is not helpful.  A good friend of mine suggested Rubbermaid storage totes. “Put all their stuff in those totes. Let them come get them.” I knew we could never downsize with buckets of toys, sports cards, dolls, stuffed animals, books, clothing, magazines, saved schoolwork, etc. The Molly doll that my daughter saved up money for? — upside down in one of those buckets, glasses askew. That didn’t seem right. She once had a seat at our Thanksgiving table. Sigh.  Well, the kids flew the nest and and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Back to stuff. The solution to getting rid of the kids’ stuff ending up being fairly simple. I offered to ship it all to them via a pod. They could put it in storage where they lived (400 miles away in a major city). Panic ensued. “We don’t have room. Wait. WAIT.” They arrived a few months later, sorted through (most of) it, pared it down and rented their own storage unit nearby – a vastly cheaper alternative. It’s been 4 years and Molly remains safe and sound and upside down a few miles away. She is surrounded by 10,000+ carefully catalogued sports cards, a dog-eared collection of Babysitter Club paperbacks, and much more. Sorry Molly.

Adult children these days (when did I get old enough to say “these days”?)….do not want their parents’ (free!) old furniture or dishes or silverware. Ew. Old brown furniture. Ew again. No sentimental attachment to the kitchen table where one made earrings out of Cheerios? Or displayed the college acceptance letters? Or spread out racks for cooling Christmas cookies? They politely decline. I am not sure what the deal is there; but it is comforting to have this ice breaker discussion with any downsized empty nester. I am not alone. Look in any Goodwill, Salvation Army or Habitat for Humanity Restore facility – it is packed with old brown furniture that baby boomers have donated. Their kids don’t want it. An antique dealer I spoke to about this phenomenon snorted “all they want is that cheap Ikea stuff.”