Sunday, June 17, 2012

My grandmother's house




































I learned this weekend that a house is no longer just a house when it's been a home.  Even if no one is living in it anymore- the power of a person's energy can be so incredibly strong.  This weekend, we found a buyer for my grandmother's house.  A family with young children who were renting in the neighborhood and longing to buy.  I have not met this family, and probably never will, but I have a pretty certain feeling that they could feel the energy in Mama's house yesterday which made them say, we want to live here.  We want this to be our home.

So I will now spend the weeks leading up to July 30th helping my family empty Mama's home and turn it back into a house.  This is not going to be easy.  I've been trying to wrap my head around the concept of "stuff" since yesterday.  After only spending a few hours in my grandmother's basement I found old Mother's Day and anniversary cards to her from my grandfather.  A "Happy 40th Anniversary" poster I drew for them as a kid, her weight watchers log book from 1973, the piles of ephemera were endless and so many of it from her grandchildren.  Mostly things she never wanted to throw away, and what do you do after looking at them?  Keep them too? And where?  It's really hard to understand and even write about but I thought I'd give it a shot.  The fact that she kept EVERYTHING helps me know how much she treasured her family- and yet it's making it that much harder to face that she is actually gone.

This is what I can say about cleaning out a house- it means you are cleaning out a life that is over.  A life that is no longer here.  Selling a house that someone has lived in for 40 years- the first ones to live in that house and see it built, means we are saying her and my grandfather's lives have ended. All of this stuff is a symbol of how well these lives were lived, and I can't seem to get over how important family is to a life well lived.

I know what you might be thinking- a life is never over, it always lives on through memories, and my grandmother gave so many people so many wonderful, wonderful memories.  But selling her house means she is not alive anymore on this earth- even more so to me than seeing her buried in the ground.



It is so weird to be there without her.  I don't want to let that house go.  It's just a house right? But it was a place where I played so many games with cousins, baked cookies and colored pictures with Mama, ran up and down stairs and bumped my head countless times in the little crawl space in the basement.  I hunted for Easter eggs and made "hula skirts" from the willow tree in the back yard, and evidence of all of these things are still there in that house so many years later.  It's been an archive of our family's history, and now we have to find a new place for all of these things and figure out what we're going to do without her.  How are we going to do that?

I hope to write about this experience more in the coming weeks.  Because I  know that this is the sort of experience worth writing about.  This is the last memory I will hold of Mama's house.  But it's hard. I forced myself to sit down and try and write out what I'm feeling today, but I can't help crying again while I do. I know that all I can really hope for is another family to fill up the house with so much love that it becomes the happiest of homes once again.
Have any of you had to sell a house of a deceased love one?  If you feel up to sharing about your experience in the comments, I'd love to hear about it- I think it might help with dealing with this very big event. Thanks for reading.






7 comments:

  1. I am so sorry. I've never had to sell off a house of a deceased loved one, but my mom died when I was younger. When my dad remarried a couple of years later, my stepmom and I had an all out war over the furnishings in the house. She wanted to change all the outdated carpets, pictures, dishes, etc. that my mom had put into the house. It was horrible for me. All of those "things" represented memories of my mom. All I can tell you is that I wish I had kept more of her things. So many of them seemed to simply disappear.

    You were talking about the energy of the home. I don't want to sound weird, but I really think that a place filled with an energy of love will attract a similar energy to it. I don't think an unhappy family would feel comfortable and want to purchase a home that housed such a loving feeling. I'm sure the essence of love that your grandparents cultivated there will live on.
    Again, I'm so sorry. There is no easy way to deal with these things. You just have to go through it.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment Heather. I know a person's life is not contingent on their things, but having some of those things can really help trigger those happy and loving memories. Thanks for sharing a bit about your story here.

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  2. Awww, Sarah. We have a lot to talk about. When I was a kid, my mom was always at work so my grandma's house quickly became my house. Sure, we had our "house" but, my grandma's house was a "home". Our house felt cold and sort of sad, we didn't spend much time there, and it sort of just felt like this place where my parents would argue. (Except for my bedroom, which was AMAZING.) My grandparents house was filled with love and laughter. She died when I was 15 and I was crushed. My grandpa still lived there for a few years-but he wanted most of her things gone because it made him too sad. I remember when she died going through her stuff with my aunts and my mom and the same thing happened. I remember finding cards that I'd given her, some that I'd drawn. She kept everything. In a sense that made me so happy that she valued me so much that she couldn't throw things away-but what were we to do with them? It hurt so bad to let things go. But her love definitely remained in the house after she was gone. Years later, my grandpa sold the house to my brother-and he did redo some things and update it a bit-new carpet and paint-and it looked different. But the one thing that didn't change was the energy. You could definitely still feel the love. My brother eventually sold the house and since my mom still lives down the street (In a new and happy home with the same "vibe") I have to drive by my grandma's house every time I "head into town". I always want to stop by and say hello-and just drink some iced tea in her backyard, pick a plum from her plum tree, and if they'd let me, take a nap on the couch! When I can't sleep at night, I imagine I'm in her house. I walk around and remember every detail. The little ceramic birds on the shelves. The clock that I learned how to tell time on. The sound of the breeze coming through the bathroom window. Everything in the "junk drawer". Before I know it, I'm fast asleep. There's no better way to fall asleep than surrounded by grandma's presence and love. Amirighttttttttttttt?
    This comment is getting reallllly long, my apologies.
    My mother and I recently went through my great grandmother's house as well. (She outlived both of her kids by many years.) It was like going through it all over again, but this time it seemed a bit easier. The things you find in their lives that they keep all those years. She had things from 1918. It was incredible. I also realized the things they did keep seemed a lot more important than all of the junk that I've got lying around. I'm trying to be mindful of what I will eventually leave behind. Will it be a stack of DVD's or a drawer full of unorganized sharpies? What's important enough to keep?

    Ahhh! Sarah, I love you! I'm sorry you're going through this. I think it's great to be writing about it and sharing. I look forward to reading what others have to say.

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    1. Thank you so much for this comment Shannon. I'm really feeling this virtual hug that you just sent me. I love hearing about your grandmother even though it is sad too- it really is special that we had these places in our childhood that are connected with so many good memories. Thanks again for commenting xoxo.

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  3. Oh Sarah I'm so sorry for this difficult time that you're going through right now, but I think it's great that you are sharing these things. Grief and all the logistics that come with it aren't spoken about enough, and things like this blog post are what comforts people who don't know where else to turn. It's amazing that you found so many wonderful memories, be sure to keep and cherish the ones that feel most important to you. I agree with Heather about the energy, I think this new family will be full of love and excitement and that they will fill up the house with a similar kind of energy to your Mama's, which is hopefully something you can take comfort in. Lots of hugs xx

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    1. Thank you Suzy. Your kind words mean a lot. xoxo.

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  4. Hey Sarah. Interesting post. I have been having a difficult time with my step father getting rid of things of my mothers that he sees no use for. It tears me apart to see him pitch them. He is living in the house and living with these things so I can understand that it is hard for him to be there with the memories. I dont even know what I would do if i took some of the things he has pitched but it makes me sad that i no longer have the opportunity to hold onto them. Everyone deals with loss differently and sometimes holding on to possesions helps carry those memories. Good luck with your grandmas house. It will be a rollercoaster of emotion.

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