Sunday, October 19, 2008
Our mother's houses
My husband and I both lost our mothers within the last two years, which has made for a real roller-coaster ride of emotion around here. There are so many things to deal with when the last of our parents die, and when you are also dealing with such profound grief - well, it's like a mine field. We've been trying to treat each other with kid gloves - but it hasn't been easy.
I've found that one of the more poignant issues involved in saying our goodbyes involves dealing with their houses. Both mother's lived in their respective houses for over fifty years and those homes were such an integral part of our own lives, living right here in the same town as we do, that now they are objects of great sadness.
Both houses are, for all practical purposes, empty: one is used as a summer rental and the other is on the market to be sold. Which means we have ample opportunity to enter them. I don't think much is more unsettling than walking around the house where you grew up, where you celebrated every holiday, where you helped paint walls and move furniture, and see it so empty. What once was full of life - both of them warm, comfortable, and vibrant homes - are empty shells now, totally devoid of the personality that our parents had breathed into them. Walking through them sometimes overwhelms us with sadness - there's no life, no personality, no home anymore. At least in the case of my mother's house there is still furniture and carpeting, but my mother-in-law's has been stripped down to the bare floors and every step echoes when you walk through it. It's surreal.
There are many things we've had to deal with since our parents died. None have had a more profound impact than those empty houses have.