14 October, 2009

It's only a box, but...


"Home is where the heart is." You read it and hear that phrase all the time. You see it done in needle point, paintings, wood carvings, blankets, posters, photographs... So much that we tend to take it for granted and not think about the meaning. Home truly is where the heart is. The house is just a big box. A box that contains and shelters the people you love and who love you, a box that contains "home." I keep reminding myself of this fact because the house that was home, is being sold. I haven't lived there for ten years and have a house of my own, but Mom still lived there and it was always "home" to me. In fact, right now I'm noticing that referring to this place in the past tense is rather awkward. My parents bought this house before me and my brother were born. My Sister and oldest brother were still fairly young when the family moved in. It seems rather rare these days for a family to stay put in one place for very long, but this house was the family home for around 44 years. There's so many things that happened in that house that I can't possibly remember them all. I knew Mom was going to sell the place for quite some time, but it didn't really sink in until I saw the "for sale" sign planted firmly in the middle of the front yard. I hit it with the lawn mower. My Dad passed the lawn mowing duties to me when I was a pre-teen. Being the youngest I was permanently on lawn mowing detail until recently. I'd mowed that lawn for around twenty two years! You can probably understand why I hit the sign in the front yard. It's the only thing that's changed in that yard for a long, long time. I was daydreaming like usual and then *CLANG*, I hit the sign. I just sort of stopped and stared at it. It was swinging on the post a bit as if to taunt me. The family had been fixing up the new house Mom was going to be living in and slowly, a little at a time, she would move things from the old house to the new one. The old house had a lot of boxes sitting around upstairs and some of the smaller furniture was gone, but it still looked like "home." My sister-in-law (a truly wonderful lady) helped Mom sort through all of the "stuff" and helped with packing and moving the smaller things. One Sunday when I was over for dinner Mom presented me with a tote full of stuff. That lady had every report card I'd received, baby stuff, school related stuff and the like packed into this tote. Apparently aside from being "home", the house was also the family archive. Then came moving day. In the space of six hours, the family had emptied our house of everything that was left. Except the garage, but more on that in a few minutes. I was selected as U-Haul driver. Apparently because having a Class A CDL made me the most qualified to drive an F-350 with a square box on it *shrugs*. I also deemed myself "Assistant Move Coordinator." The irony of the situation is even though I didn't want to see my home disappear, I wanted the move done right and as efficiently as possible. I'd reminded myself that the house isn't important, it's my Mother that's important. Though they weren't my Father's dying words, one of the last duties he'd assigned to me was "Take care of your Mother." What he told me has been in the back of my mind since he died and I hope that, in his eyes, I've been doing a good job. So, the night before moving day I started hauling stuff out on my own in my little truck. I wanted the next day to go smoothly with the least amount of stress for Mom. I had to be out of bed by 09:00 on moving day and I was tired right away. Having worked nights at almost every job I've had, getting up before noon is rather difficult. I knew I'd have a hard time seeing my home slowly emptied so I put it out of my mind and turned into a sleepy robot. Load the truck, drive the truck, empty the truck, repeat as necessary. After everything had been moved and the truck returned, I went back to the "old house" (the place had changed designations sometime during the move). I had a garage to empty out. Having been the last of my siblings to have lived there, I knew what was going into the trash pile or the "keep" pile. Once I got to the old house I realized that I was alone. I unlocked the back door and walked in. It was a very, very strange feeling that came over me. Even though everything was gone, my mind was so used to seeing things in the same spots for so long, that I just couldn't grasp that the place was empty. The other senses didn't help things any. The familiar sounds of doors opening and closing, creaks in the floors and steps, the familiar smells... It sounded like home, it looked like home and it smelled like home. "Is it home?" I asked myself. I really didn't know. If you asked me about some of my memories about home last year, I could have pulled a couple of the big ones off the top of my head, but having to think about it, I wouldn't have been able to recall too many. Being there alone, however, was different. As I walked from one empty room to the next, the memories came flooding back. It was almost more than I could take and I started to cry a little bit. The one place on the planet where I always felt totally and completely safe, was now gone. I felt... lost. Then the sun came shining through the windows. During the move, the weather had played its part well. It was cold, cloudy and gloomy. Then, as I was at the lowest point of the day, the sun breaks out. Now, I wouldn't call myself "religious" by any means, but I am spiritual. I'd like to think that My Dad, my brother, my grandparents, uncle Jack and the other family members so important to me who have passed on, were behind those rays of sunshine. They were giving me the support I needed so badly at that time the only way they could. It rejuvenated me and, though very tired, I got what I needed to carry on with the task at hand. I backed my truck into the garage and went back to "robot" mode. Load truck, drive truck, empty truck... I got back to my place at 23:00 that night. The only stuff left were some things my brother could sort out. There's some tool boxes from Dad still there, but those will be removed before the closing date. The following week was a bit strange, but being at work took my mind off of things. After leaving Mom's new place to return the rental truck, I didn't go back. So, I hadn't seen the new place "arranged" yet. This past Sunday, I went over for Sunday dinner like I usually do (the older I get, the more I appreciate a "home" cooked meal) and I finally saw her new house set up the way she wanted it and everything started falling into place. I looked at the kitchen floor, the fresh paint on the walls, the new tile in the bathroom, the familiar furniture and realized that all of the work was done out of love. Not for money, not to collect "loot" from old tool boxes and such. It was MY family working together because we all love each other. As I sat at the counter eating dinner with my Mother, I put it all together. My family is what I love, love comes from my heart and my heart is with my family. "Home is where the heart is."

1 comment:

chris said...

Nice Little Bro, I love You!