So, my sister and I got an offer on ma’s house yesterday which we’re going to accept. The people want to move in around mid-January and this will be the last ‘thing’ we’re going to be letting go of. It’s hitting me like a ton of bricks.
I’ve always been the type to get attached to things so much. I’ve got a bunny I won at our local laundry when I was 4 and I named her ‘Pinky’…she’s pink so I was very creative with the name. Anyhoot, I still have her 52 years later – minus her ears which fell off sometime in the 70’s and a pair of my underwear from the same decade that’s been on her since. No…I’ve never washed this underwear in all of these years…and no, Pinky is pottie-trained so it’s ok. When O saw her for the first time last year when I was rummaging around in my old closet at ma’s, he was horrified. Absolutely horrified. In fact, I’ve never seen my son with such a look of fear on his face…apparently, he likens Pinky to Annabelle. Go figure. 🙄
I have so many other things that I just can’t let go of either: books from when I was a kid…old school papers of my own and of O’s…my teaching supplies from when I taught elementary complete with every drawing my students made for me…cards my college sweeties have given me over the last 26 years…even hankies that are in complete tatters just because ma said they were like Grandpas and you just can’t find them available anymore. I guess I’m just a sucker for nostalgia.
Pop and ma built the house when I was in first grade and Terri and I got to pick out our room design: I chose bright yellow wallpaper with huge flowers on it, gold paint, gold carpet and then a red/white/blue ceiling light that went with absolutely nothing. I got the smaller room but bigger closet and pop built bookshelves in it and I’d sit inside the closet and play library with Pinky and my myriad of other stuffed friends. Terri was a bit more stylish since she’s so much older than me 🤨) and her colors of choice were orange wallpaper with bright flowers, orange paint, and orange carpeting. However, her light was much more in keeping with the decor. But we loved our rooms…they were VERY cool!
We used to use our hairbrushes as microphones and sing David Cassidy songs in front of her closet which was our ‘audience’…Terri styled my hair in her room and bopped my nose with the hair dryer each and every time…we each got our own stereo’s and Terri would play her Donna Summer album at bedtime and to this day, I still feel drowsy when I hear MacArthur Park. We’d make brownies when ma was at work and then eat the batter with our fingers. We tanned on our deck and watched our skin turn red and our hair turn orange. We’d pull our bikes out of the garage and ride around the neighborhood for hours. We’d use the pogo stick and stilts Grandpa gave us and would totter around the driveway.
But with ma’s house, I have mixed feelings – there are a lot of good memories in it…but there are a lot of bad too. And honestly, I think the bad ones are one of the reasons I chose not to live in the house myself.
Richard (that fucking bastard 😡) moved into it when I was a sophomore in high school and it was a weird time. He was nice at first (as most abusers are) but there was still that awkwardness of having this new person around. Then the violence he perpetuated against ma began, and escalated quickly. I would hear him beating her at night when I was in bed and the horror of that was indescribable. Then there were the ‘between’ times when ma and I had to tiptoe around on eggshells so that I was never really comfortable at home when he was around.
Even after moving out, Terri and I were still directly affected by R. EVERY holiday was hellish because he would either be ranting, preaching, demanding, yelling or lashing out and for 28 years, Thanksgiving and Christmas were a trial. Terri and I would dread going over there when he was home and because of this didn’t see ma as much as we’d like, which was exactly what Richard wanted. The less access she had to us…the more he had to her.
But then she divorced him and her transformation began. Not just personally, but in terms of her home too. She wanted a completely fresh start and re-did everything exactly the way she wanted. Paint, window coverings, carpet, furniture, lamps, a complete remodel of her bathrooms, and the list goes on. She even had her bedroom painted a pinkish-rose…one of her very favorite colors! Her home went from a prison to a retreat and she loved it so much. I don’t know how many times she said how comfortable she was…how content…how happy.
And it took on a completely different meaning for us again. I loved going over there and eating lunch at her kitchen island, playing cards in her sunroom, having holidays that were relaxed and fun and opening presents on the living room floor, sewing with her downstairs and rummaging through her fabric stash, watching her quilt on her long-arm, plopping on her bed when she got ready to go somewhere, having family meals…especially chili…in the dining room and laughing our way through it, seeing her sitting on the porch when she knew I was running over and wanted to see me coming up the street, talking to her while I watered her outside plants as she sat on the porch bossing me around. These last 12 years of memories are awesome…and those are the ones I want to remember most.
I guess letting go of the house is letting go of her pride and joy. Of the best years of her life. Of her growth. Of her true happiness. Of the time where she could be herself with absolutely no one berating her. Suddenly the house ‘was her’. And it symbolized the best of her that she discovered within herself.
I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to do a final walk through. It’s completely empty now and I haven’t seen it yet. Terri was the one to take care of the long-arm machine which was the last thing to go. But I think I want to remember it full of her. Seeing her in her jammies and sitting on her chair and cross-stitching and watching American Ninja Warriors, (she had a HUGE crush on The Rock and actually told me something naughty she wanted to do with him…I was a bit taken aback! 😮) while eating a bowl of her Bear Track ice cream.
That’s what I want to take with me. And that’s what she was able to leave Terri and I with.
Love you ma. Love you more.