Saturday, October 30, 2010

Leaving Home

The house is quiet this morning -- my little grandson sits on the living room carpet with his new building blocks.  The view from my window is of clouds, drizzle, and the last leaves of autumn slowly drifting to the ground.  This season is a soothing one for me -- the craziness of summer is past and we have all adjusted to the more scheduled routine of fall. 

On Wednesday I accompanied my granddaughter on a preschool field trip to a pumpkin farm, and yesterday I made Halloween cupcakes -- with a grandchild on each side stirring and licking the batter from wooden spoons.  My memories drift to Halloweens long past, when I was creating holiday memories for their fathers and their aunt.  I remember the years of costume-making and parties, and the pleasure of reconnecting with neighbors as we trekked from house to house to Trick or Treat.

This autumn I find myself at a crossroad.  Our family has struggled in today's difficult economy, and this may very well be the last holiday season I will celebrate in my beloved old house.  Our options are limited.  We are hopeful that we will be able to sell our house and build a small little inlaw apartment at my daughter's house.  Hopefully, it will simplify our financial lives, as well as provide us with a lovely little cottage to shelter us as we age.  It is exciting to think of building something new -- an open floor plan with a cozy loft for my bedroom and my books, a place for my grandchildren to sleep over, and a sparkling new kitchen.  The view from my windows will be of trees, grass, and inky night skies filled with starlight.

But, and there is a huge "but", my heart breaks to think of leaving this large old Victorian that has sheltered our family for so long.  The memories of almost two-thirds of my life linger within these walls.  This house has long been filled with children, pets, friends and family.  It has been the gathering place for countless holiday celebrations, summer picnics, everyday family meals, and quiet conversations with loved ones at the kitchen table.  While many of these friends and family have either moved on or passed on, I hold special memories of them all in my heart, and often picture their beloved faces at the table as I work in my kitchen alone.  There have been wonderful times in this house, but there has also been sorrow, and in times of sorrow, its walls draw around me and offer comfort and sanctuary.

Tears flow as I walk through my gardens -- my personal source of peace.  I have worked so hard to create my own little oasis here.  The stresses of a difficult marriage and a struggling family business have worn me down emotionally, and the solitude of my beloved porch and gardens soothes my spirit.  I have placed the stones in the walks, and around the little pond, painted the white picket fences, and lovingly tended the trees and plants that thrive heartily.  I feel as if I am leaving part of myself here.

I have to accept that it may be time to move on.  Sometimes in life we have to follow a new path.  It will be much better for me if I look forward to this move with optimism and anticipation.  I will design my little cottage in loving detail, begin plans for new gardens -- bringing along some of my precious perennials and cuttings from my flowering shrubs.  I will pack away the treasures I intend to pass along to my grandchildren, and look forward to a new kitchen with a sunny window for fresh herbs, and a lovely loft area with shelves for my books and teddy bear collection.  I will have a new, smaller back porch for sipping my morning coffee. 

But, this old house of mine is like a long-loved friend.  Leaving it will be heart-wrenching.  I can only pray that I find a buyer who will treasure it as I do.

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