Sunday, June 24, 2012

Home No More

The phone rang early, before 8am, on Saturday morning.  It was my mother.

"I need to talk to you about something.  Have a minute?"  
I sensed the importance in her voice.  "Sure" I answered, worried that given the urgency in her voice and the early hour that she was going to tell me that someone was very sick or had died.

" I got an offer on the house."

I was silent.  This was the call I had been  both anticipating and dreading.  My parents live a thousand miles away from me.  They are moving to be closer to our family, but first they must sell their house.

My grandparent's house.  

The one on many acres of land in the middle of a large city purchased by my great-grandparents at the turn of the century when they immigrated to America from Sweden.

The place where my grandfather was raised.  Where my mother was raised.  The place I consider home.

My mother continued, "I wanted to talk to you about it first."

The house.  

It is a quite white cape on acres of land that was once a working farm.  In the backyard, there once stood not one, but two, swing sets for my cousins and I to play on.  There was a hand constructed wood and rope clothes line where socks and towels would dry in the summer sun.  There were picnic tables for sharing outdoor meals.  

There was also a large, open field in the back.  Where my grand father had once tended his expansive garden.  Where he grew corn and potatoes and tomatoes and beans and carrots and peas.  The peas where my favorite so my grandfather would take extra care to protect the plants from the hungry bunnies.  

The field is surrounded by blackberry bushes.  I would stand at the edge of the bushes, shoving one sweet, ripe berry into my mouth after another until my hands and mouth were stained purple and my stomach was full.

Beyond the field was the woods.  The place where I spend hours exploring.  Where there were ghostly shells of old farm buildings.  Where there was a pond where I would catch frogs in the summer and ice skate in the winter.

" is a good offer." 

The house.   Where my grandmother baked sugar cookies and apple pies and made pancakes and pot of beef stew.  Where my grandfather sat in the dining room and read the afternoon news paper and sucked on peppermint candy.  Where I had my own little bedroom at the top of the stairs to the right.

My mother added, "And S, they aren't interested in the house.  They want the land.  They are going to tear down the house."

"Tear it down?" I asked, even though I had heard my mother's words quite clearly.

I had been fortunate.  My relationship with my grandparents was idyllic.  Their house was very close to mine and I spend much of my time there in my youth.  It was my sanctuary.  My grandparents allowed me to run and explore and make messes and get dirty.  I was free.  I was the one they doted on.  The one, who in their eyes, could do no wrong.  

After my grandparents died, my mother rented the house for a while before deciding to move back in two years ago.

"What do you think?" my mother asked me.  "I can't move until I sell the house.  The market is lousy.  I counted eight other homes for sale in our price range on our street alone."
"No." I said flatly.  "If they want to tear it down, don't sell it.  Don't take the offer."

It had been a difficult choice for my mother to decide to put the house that had been in our family for generations on the market, but we all loved the reason behind the decision; so my parents could move here.  Close to Mr. A and I, and Miss J and M.  So they may have the presence in their grandchildren's lives that I had with mine. So they may be present for every holiday and birthday and recital and concert.  For backyard  cookouts and baking cookies and decorating Christmas trees.

I had imagined a new family moving in to my grandparent's house.  A new family with small children who would explore the land as I had.  I had imagined a family with dogs hosting backyard parties.

I had imagined this family many times in my head.

I had not imagined the house being torn down, even though we all knew the value was in the expanse of land and not in the house.  

Tear down the house.  
No family.  
No dogs.  
No backyard parties.

Tear it down.  Was a developer trying to buy the property?

My mother added.  "They want to tear down the house to build a residence for people with special needs.  They want to build a single floor home with four bedrooms for them to live in."

My anger dissolved.
A home.
On a beautiful piece of land that was flooded with happy memories.
A safe place for four people with disabilities to live.
A place that was green and wooded and expansive and tranquil.

A place.  For people like M.

When my mind drifts and I wonder if M might ever live in a group home, I imagine a place that is bright and clean and safe and beautiful. I cannot imagine a more perfect place than my grandparents farm.

I will miss the house.  I will miss never being able to go home.  Letting go will be difficult.
But without any doubt, I know this is the right offer.  This is absolutely what we should do. It suddenly feels completely, fully right.

Without hesitation I tell my mother, "Take the offer."

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