I’m in the home stretch desperate to make it to the finish line. I’m packing, I’ve signed a contract, but there’s many more steps to go before the final move-out and closing. I’m praying it all goes well and I have the energy and clarity to see it through. In the mean time, I’ve just had dental surgery.
A failed root canal from two years ago has become another empty space in my mouth. It’s not the first time as I’ve had no success rate with root canals. Four missing teeth makes chewing trickey, but at least I don’t have to go through the torture my grandparents went through.
While going through old boxes I found a short story my grandmother wrote about her dental experience back in the early 60’s. It was a bit nightmarish reminiscent of a Poe story. Both my grandparents wore full dentures, and now I know the gruelling tale of how my grandmother lost all her upper teeth. Thank God for modern advancements in dentistry and pain management.
Long Goodbye’s are Difficult
Back in February of this year when I was planning my trip to the US, I was aware that my tasks would be difficult. However, optimistic as I am, I planned to get it done in three months. I arrived on March 5th to a disaster zone, a house that was neglected and unlivable. So, I lived at a motel for two months while the plumbing was repaired, hoarding was dealt with, and decontamination and cleaning services were employed. All the while using a rental car to go back and forth to the house.
At that time I was so eager to get through it all and be done with it. Every day I listened to the news about the war in the Ukraine and I was grateful that my circumstances were not as bad as that. But the thought of bombs dropping on homes and people losing everything while struggling just to escape death made me more determined to get rid of all the stuff my parents had accumulated in the house.
I maintained this detached determination for about four months. Then my daughter and her cat came to stay with me in June, to help me go through closets and sell stuff. As we dove deeper into the vault of family history and we spent more family time together with my son’s as well, the veil of detachment wore thin. As I put the house on the market, the market began to change and showings were minimal. I felt insulted that this beautiful family home wasn’t snatched right up at a price I felt it was worth.
Although we were selling a lot of small items, the bulk of the furniture remained and living here became more comfortable. When my daughter and her cat left at the end of July, the awareness of loss caused a deep meloncoly to settle in, stirring up renewed attachments. I began to feel that I would really miss this house and the furnishings that have survived several generations and moves up and down the east coast.
I’ve been here from the end of Winter, through Spring and Summer, and now the beginning of Autumn. This is the seventh month of my sojourn, and Australia has begun to feel like a distant memory.
Almost Giving Up
A few weeks ago I almost took the house off the market. I was overwhelmed and felt I couldn’t go on. Physically, mentally and emotionally I was done. My RA had flared with the hot and humid weather, and I had injured my back moving boxes. I just wanted to leave and forget about it all. The tooth infection and heavy antibiotics were slowing me down as well. I couldn’t see how I could get through all of this. Then a friend reached out to me and offered support.
I contemplated the idea of walking away, closing up the house and leaving it until next year. Monthly utilities and the mortgage would still need to be paid, as well as plowing in winter. The thought of starting this process all over again next Spring was not appealing. I cried and prayed to find a way through this physical, mental and emotional quagmire of issues.
A few friends here and there in different ways offered encouragement or help. The real estate agent amped up their sales approach so I wouldn’t pull out. I needed to rest a lot but I kept plugging away little by little dealing with what was right in front of me. Incremental steps slowly building momentum. In the back of my mind there was a whisper saying “Don’t give up, you have to finish.”
Let it Go
I beseeched the Universe, “I need to move on with my life, please help me! I can’t keep this house or the furniture and the overload of family history. I can’t live in the past; I’m grateful for it but I want to move forward!”
Since it was extremely hot I decided to work in the cool and quiet basement going through boxes of family photos and historical documents. I found there was a lot of repitition, duplicate (often quadruplicate) photos and documents. There were a lot of unnecessary folders and files of currently irrelevant information. Property sales from the 40’s through the 80’s. Business and travel records, cards and letters, journals of every camping trip or vacation. I threw it all out, only keeping photos or info I thought my children or grandchildren might have an interest in someday.
I learned things I didn’t know about my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. Concealed truth and misperceptions. I felt shock, relief and a new appreciation for love, life and family. This process of dealing with my parent’s estate and family history has been going on for 10 years since my mother passed and my brother became trustee. Although my brother dealt with the immediate financial accounts that needed to be closed, he couldn’t deal with the house, the contents, the documents and the history. He passed away feeling trapped by all of it.
I was left to sort it all out. Finally, I feel like I’m getting to the bottom of it, but it’s been a rough and turbulent task.
What we need to hold onto is the love that was given and recieved through each life. Sometimes there’s pain and tradgety, struggle and misfortune. Sometimes there’s joy and laughter and good times. The physical objects like houses, furniture, and the souveneers and photographs we collect are just there to express and support what flows from the heart.
Now I feel I can move forward with the heart of my family intact while letting go of the physical relics and remnants of the past. I could have made different decisions, I could have kept everything and spent the rest of my life looking after this house and all it’s contents. But that’s not me, I’m not domestic, I’m one who continues to explore life’s great adventure.
Even still, it’s not easy to let go of things that have held a precious place in my life. I doubt myself sometimes, and I struggle with the uncertianty of my future plans. But I have to trust this process because I have prayed for guidance every step of the way. Right or wrong in someone elses view isn’t relevant in this situation, I’ve done what I thought was best for our family. The weight is lifting from my shoulders, my energy is returning, my head and heart are clearing and I can get to the finish line.