An Old Toy Box

Today was moving day. My family expected me to be crying at some point. It wouldn’t be unusual. Even my oldest son, Robert, called to check on me this morning.

While I drove to the new house with Rachel and Ryan to unload cars, Gart stayed back with the movers. Soon he sent a text, a picture of the empty house. I felt a little sad, but no tears.

Once everything was unloaded at the new house, we made one more trip back to the old house. Now I was standing in the middle of the emptiness. Rachel commented, ”It hasn’t looked like this since we moved in.” That was 16 years ago. The kids were 8, 6, and 3.

I remember them running around inside the house. I remember worrying about Ryan falling down the stairs. I think about how proud I am of the young adults they’ve become. Still, there were no tears.

We backed out of the driveway. Gart and Ryan in the truck, Rachel and I following in my car. Something caught my eye-the old toy box my dad built when Robert was a kid. It’s a little bench seat with a lid which lifts for storage.

This wooden box has been through many moves, sat in many rooms, and served many purposes. Today, it caused my tears. ”Of all things,” I thought to myself, ”Robert’s old toy box.”

I suppose it makes sense. We are preparing for that empty nest. This move represents a culmination of changes for our family. The kids are all grown up. They don’t need that space to run and play anymore. They are too big to sit on that seat or play with the toys it once held. And that is a good thing.

I love our new house. I look forward to making memories here with our grown-up children. Maybe one day, there will be other little ones sitting on that seat. No hurry. The memories we carry will soon fill the empty spaces while leaving room for new ones.

This house will soon feel like home because of the people who live here and the people who will visit. In the meantime, I will look back with fondness and forward with hope. And maybe I will find a special spot for that old toy box. 😉

Carry Them With Me

My daughter, Rachel, and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby yesterday. Her goal was to purchase frames for her newly acquired teaching certificate and college diploma! They are now ready to be proudly displayed.

I was also shopping for something to display. A storage box or pretty container for storing letters. Not just any old letters. Letters which were written by my husband, Gart.

We have moved many times over the last twenty-six years. Somehow, I managed to keep up with the letters. They have occupied several different boxes and resided on a variety of closet shelves. As we prepare to move from our current home after fifteen years, I decided they need a more prominent location.

Rachel and I walked down the aisle of decorative boxes. There were many shapes, styles, and colors. One immediately caught her eye. “Ooh look. This is cute! It looks like a mini-suitcase.” After exploring several others, I returned to Rachel’s pick. Perfect!

Once home, I carefully transferred Gart’s letters to their new home. I couldn’t walk away without reading several. Sweet memories.

Some were typed, carefully folded, and placed in envelopes. Others hand-written on notebook paper and folded in half. Each marked with his unmistakable signature. 😉

The messages were just as varied as the paper on which they were written. Notes from when we dated, the rest scattered throughout our twenty-six-year marriage.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

The new box is proudly displayed on my dresser. As I glanced at it this morning, my first thought was, “How perfect! My collection of love letters carefully placed in their very own suitcase.”

I will always carry the sentiments expressed by the words in my heart. And the papers on which the words were written? I will continue to carry them with me, in their very own suitcase, wherever this life leads. ❤

Kitchen Drawers

Getting a house you’ve lived in for fifteen years ready to sell is quite an undertaking. We spent much of this weekend working on small projects. Cleaning out closets, replacing light fixtures and bulbs, packing up books. Each endeavor seemed small on its own, but when added together, felt like a big accomplishment.

The kitchen pantry and drawers were in great need of some TLC. My daughter, Rachel, helped with the pantry. We removed everything from each shelf, threw away anything out-of-date, wiped down the surfaces, and put back what items remained. It looks so much better!

Next were the kitchen drawers. I had started to clean them out on several occasions. But every time I opened one and looked in, I felt overwhelmed. Today I would tackle one drawer. The main silverware drawer. Surely, I could manage just this one drawer.

I placed the contents of the drawer on the kitchen counter. Looking down, I noticed the paper lining at the bottom. Oh my. Was this the same paper that was there when we moved in? I’m afraid so. I had initially planned to replace it, but life happens.

As I stared at the paper, white with little blue and pink flowers, old and outdated, there was no question what had to happen. It had to be ripped out, every last sticky piece. And believe me, it was sticky. Once the paper was removed and the drawer bottom cleaned, I lined the drawer with some new, updated material.

What a difference! Not only did I manage to clean out this one drawer, but I also cleaned out all the other kitchen drawers!

A small treasure from today’s work! 🙂

I know this sounds like a minor task. It does not provide the selling power of say, new countertops or tile. But as I looked at the old paper, debating whether or not to tear it out, I remembered what it was like to move into a new house. Especially when I was a young wife and mom. I wanted everything to be just right but did not have the time or energy for even a small project such as this.

When we moved in, the task of tearing out that paper would have sent me over the edge. Granted, it was probably in better shape than it is now. So, I chose to leave it and give it a good scrubbing. It is nice to know the next person who lives here won’t have to make that choice.

I have no idea who will buy our home. I hope it is a young family like we were when we moved in. Kids running around upstairs, having their own space to play and grow. A family enjoying the openness of this house, the light from the large windows, the park at the end of our street. A mom who appreciates a simple gesture. A gesture such as the removal of the sticky paper from the bottom of the kitchen drawers.

Going Home

Growing up, giving directions to my house was always interesting.  It went something like this…”Drive past the Natural Steps sign and Moreland’s Grocery Store, go around a sharp curve, over a hill, then you’ll see a straight stretch of road.  Right at the end of the straight stretch, turn left onto Mahar Road.”  Mahar is my mom’s maiden name, hence the name of the road.

My husband likes to tell people that I grew up in a commune, but that is not the case. The quarter of a mile road,  lined with trees on both sides, dead ends into a wide-open valley.  My grandparent’s house was in the center, surrounded by several homes belonging to my aunts, uncles, and my parents.  Huge oaks, towering pines, and grassy fields provided plenty of room for kids to run and play.

That’s where I spent my childhood-riding bikes, digging in the dirt, playing kickball and basketball with my cousins.  And since my mom had six sisters and two brothers, there were always cousins around.  They say I made them listen to me practice piano and violin…well, maybe a few times.  But most of the time, we were outside.  Distinct memories include singing at the top of my lungs while riding bicycles, trying to fool my uncle with mud pies, and playing “King of the Mountain” on Grandma’s front porch.

Almost thirty-three years have passed since I lived on Mahar Road.  Even while typing I think surely that can’t be correct! Oh, but it is…despite the years gone by and having a family of my own, I still refer to this special place as home.  I’m thankful to have grown up there-carefree, no worries about safety, room to let our imaginations run wild.

Of course, things have changed since I was a child.  My grandparents are no longer living, cousins are all grown and many, just like me, have moved away.  That doesn’t matter.  Simply driving the route that leads to home causes any anxiety to melt away.  My brain slows down, my body relaxes, and while there I truly rest.  Sometimes I even feel like a kid again.

Thinking about my childhood reminds me that home is so much more than a house.  It’s the people, the places, the memories.  And sometimes…you just need to go home.