Friday, June 08, 2007

Feels like home to me

Last June, my Grandmom passed away after a long illness.

This Wednesday is the settlement date for the young couple who bought her house.

I knew the house was going on the market. My dad, handyman extraordinaire, has been fixing it up for my aunt to sell. When I talked to him last night, I asked when she was putting it on the market. "Oh, it's already sold," he said, "Settlement's Wednesday."

I felt like I'd been sucker punched.

"Well, we're going to empty the house on Sunday; pack up the POD, if you want to come and help."
"I gotta work Sunday."
"I'll be there on Saturday if you want to come down."

So tomorrow afternoon we're going to go and say goodbye to the house on Radcliffe Ave.

It's more than a house that this wonderful, with-child, couple is moving into. They're moving into the storehouse for my childhood memories of my grandparents. Memories of summers spent swimming and eating way too much watermelon and corn on the cob. 4th of July parties where friends and family would come and have burgers and drink gin slurpees and we'd watch the fireworks over the house. You could see them from the back yard. Later, when Grandpop and Grandmom split up and not as many people came (and there was less drinking) we'd drive over to the high school and see them up close.

When I walk into the shed in our backyard and breathe in the smell of gas and grass, I am seven again, standing in my grandpop's huge shed with his lawnmower and his motorcycle inside. He was a carpenter and all of his tools were organized on pegboard lining the shed walls. they kept a port-a-pot in there for us to use if we had been swimming. That way, we didn't get water all over the carpet in the house.

When I make macaroni salad, I am a little girl again watching my grandmom chop green bell peppers and carrots into the tiniest pieces for her macaroni salad (hers is much better than mine; I don't have the patience to ultra-petite dice the veggies). Making the potato and macaroni salad would always take her about 4 hours because hse took such care with it. And I remember her telling me that when Grandpop would help her peel and slice the potatoes, they had to do extra potatoes because he would eat them raw.

When I make a tomato salad, I think of my aunt and her garden. She grew what seemed to be the largest tomatoes. Sometimes they would crack on the top near the stem, but they were so good. I could eat them like an apple. My aunt was then and still is the most glamourous woman I know. I loved getting into her jewelry and playing dress-up. She really taught me how to be a lady (I'm still working on that, Aunt Patti!)

So, tomorrow, I'm heading down there and I'm going to look around one last time. My aunt has done a great job of keeping the place up and she's made some great improvements. The kitchen where Grandmom and Grandpop peeled potatoes together in happier times is bigger now, expanded out the back of the house just like Grandpop had always intended to do, but never had the chance to (My family jokes about the carpenter's house being the worst-maintained home on the block.). The shed is gone too. There's nice lawn growing there now. Some of the stuff might be missing or different, but aside from the place where I live now, where I brought my babies after they were born, from the home that I'm making, the house on Radcliffe Ave. is the closest thing to home there is.


Barb, sfo said...

I have been down this road 3 times, with my grandmothers' homes, then my parents' home as they "upsized" into a retirement place, and now #4: my great-aunt's home, the last "memory spot" of my childhood, on the market as she moves to a retirement place.

If I were you I would write a letter with some of these fond memories and leave it for the new owners to find. I hope they have happy times in a home that was a happy place for you in your childhood.

Jennifer F. said...

I agree with Barb's suggestion about writing a letter for the new owners. What a great idea.

This post was really touching.

~m2~ said...

i *third* the idea of the letter - what a treasure i would have found that to be when we bought our (then, 50 year-old) new house!

ame, this brought tears to my eyes. very sweet & nostalgic...

Aimee said...

Sort of funny how it's hard to say goodbye to these kind of things.

When my grandmother moved in with my aunt, we all helped her go through the house and get it ready to be sold. I still want to go straight on County Line Road when I visit, instead of turning to head toward my aunt's house. All those years of one set of directions are hard to erase. :)

Thinking of you . . .