Yesterday morning, at approximately 11:50 am, I closed and locked the door on my mother’s house. I posed for a photograph with my brother on the front lawn. I wished him and my sister-in-law a safe flight home.
Then, I got in my car and drove away from my childhood home for the very last time.
Clearing out your parents’ home is a very surreal experience. Both my brother and I noted that we were basically wiping out fifty-five years of a person’s history. Sure, he and I took a few pieces away with us, but as neither of us have room for an entire house – and let’s be honest, even if we did, some of the stuff we simply didn’t want – the bulk of the contents when to an estate dealer. When I closed the door yesterday, I left behind fifty-five years of collectible plates, figurines and furniture. The little rabbit and kitten figurines that dotted the kitchen window sills. The fifty some-odd pieces of milk glass scattered throughout the house. Some of my brother’s baby clothes. An old baby doll of mine.
And coats. One for every season and sub-season. I took three or four of them back for her
to wear, and still left at least two dozen for donation to the local shelter. The homeless people of Berkshire county will be weather-ready this year.
Like I said, we did take a few things. I brought home a few family heirlooms – including my mom’s hope chest that she wanted Tattoo’s fiancee to have – and my brother found some jewelry and figurines that had special significance. Mostly though, the weekend wasn’t about stuff so much as it was about saying goodbye. It’s funny, the memories
that pop into your head. A lot of them were weird, little things I hadn’t thought about in years, like where we hung our Christmas stockings and the time my father put a hole in the wall hanging up a kitchen blackboard. (Soon as the blackboard went up, he announced it would NEVER LEAVE THE WALL AGAIN.) My brother and I joked about how the minute we moved out, our mom turned our bedrooms into hotel rooms and how she literally and single-handedly won the war against dust. (The fact that the basement is cleaner than parts of my house had me hanging my head in shame.)
There were uncomfortable memories too. No family is perfect, and ours was no exception. But, as my brother very eloquently said, for better or worse, our time in that house made us the people we are. Now, that back door is closed, and I’m back home in my home. The one that some day Tattoo will clean out. That house on Watson Street, however, will also have a place in my heart.