Front-Yard Goodbyes

I’ve had many experiences, too many to count, with front-yard goodbyes. A close friend or family member prepare to move away or go home after a visit. I walk them to the door. Hugs given and received, well-wishes spoken, but it doesn’t end at the front door.

We walk outside together, down the sidewalk. One more hug, one last “be careful,” conversation continuing until the car door closes. As they drive away, I stand firm in the yard. We wave, and I watch until they are out of sight.

These memories range from my childhood all the way up to this very day. Each filled with images of people I love. People I hope to see again soon. People who are difficult to watch drive away.

An emotional reaction from me is pretty much a guarantee. Sometimes it is immediate. Uncontrolled tears flow for all to see. Attempts to dry them to no avail.

Other times, my reaction is delayed. Although I feel sad as they drive away, there are no tears. And just when I think, “Wow! I didn’t cry” they are mentioned later in the day, and I’m suddenly fighting back tears.

Whether the emotions are instantaneous or deferred really does not matter. What matters is time. Taking the time to say goodbye not only once, but two or three times. Taking the time to follow, stand firm, wave, and watch.

Showing them how much they are loved through a simple front-yard goodbye.

Good Books, Good Friends

Summer break is here! I always look forward to having time to read for pleasure in the summer. Get lost in a story, feel like I’ve been introduced to new people. A couple months ago I bought a book with that thought in mind. I began reading it this week.

After the first chapter, there was no doubt I would not be able to put the book down. So, this morning I made a deal with myself. Reading would not begin until I had at least cleaned the kitchen. My plan was to clean, read a few chapters. Do a little packing (we are also moving this summer), read some more, and so on.

Well…the kitchen is clean. And I know the end of the story.

What a beautiful story. And though I couldn’t wait to reach the end, I felt sad upon arrival. The characters came to life. I could see their faces, hear their voices. As I was reading, I knew I would miss them when the story ended. Almost like friends who were moving far away.

One particular passage caught my attention. It was as if there was a stop sign on the page. Smiling, I read it again. After the third time, I wrote it down.

Universal truth: some people you’ve known since birth and you’ve just barely met them; others you’ve known for four years and they’ve been your friend since before you were born.

Marisa De Los Santos

What a sweet reminder from my first book of the summer. Certain friendships (and books) seem to transcend time. Once they are part of your life, you can’t remember a time without them.

Here’s to a summer filled with good books and good friends.

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.

House to Home

Our family has lived in our current home for fifteen years.  Kids were nine, seven, and three when we moved in.  Prior to that move we had lived in four different houses in three different cities, and two different states.  I remember feeling so relieved to be settled.

As someone who spent the first seventeen years of my life (until I left for college) in the same house, all of our moves were challenging.  I worried about how the kids would handle each new place.  Would they make friends easily?  Would I?  Of course, we all adjusted in our own way.

This house has truly become home.  It’s where our kids grew up.  So many memories.  For example, my concern that Ryan would fall down the stairs.  He was so little when we moved in, and the kids bedrooms were all upstairs.  As it turned out, the concern should have been for me!  I was the first one to bounce down the stairs on my bottom.

Although there was the time Robert tumbled down the stairs.  Apparently Robert, Rachel, and Ryan were playing the game “follow your siblings directions while wearing a sleeping bag over your head.”  I’m sure you’ve all played that one before!  Some friendly advice; make sure the sibling giving directions knows their right from their left…

Many of the memories involve celebrations-and food.  Saturday morning pancakes, Sunday night Chinese take-out, Dad’s burgers on the grill, my chocolate chip cookies, yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Birthday parties, holiday dinners with extended family, graduation parties-so many things to celebrate.

Well…things are about to change.  We currently have a high school senior and a college senior, and an already moved out and employed teacher.  We know from experience these next few months will fly by.  And though our nest won’t be immediately empty, that is the direction we are rapidly heading.

Gart and I have talked many times about preparing for this next stage in life.  He would even joke and tell the kids we were going to buy a tiny house or move to a loft apartment downtown.  Neither of those is going to happen, but we are preparing to buy another house and sell this one.

Right now my thoughts are mostly in the details-time frame, moving boxes, etc.  But they  unexpectedly drift and I find my eyes welling with tears.  This happened while driving away from the home we eventually decided to buy.  It’s a beautiful home, warm and cozy.  I am excited.  So why was I crying?

Change is like that.  Even when the change is positive, it still comes with growing pains.  Right now my growing pains involve how my role as a parent is changing.  Since the majority of my parenting years took place in this house, leaving it will be emotional.

Sometimes when I’m at home alone, our once busy house feels like an empty shell.  I’m thankful for the flood of memories that fills the empty spaces.  Just as our family established traditions and made memories here, I must trust we will do the same in our new house.  And as old memories travel with us and mix together with the new,  a transformation will take place-one that will turn house to home.