Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Changing Gears

Our house was built in 1968.  Today inside has numerous spots that need improving: painting here, plugging holes there, repairing this and screwing that.  To say our house is falling apart -- no. It's in need of a makeover.  R is too weak to worry; I'm too weak to worry.  What a spot we're in.

When we built the house we had two sons and one daughter living with us. We arranged the rooms to give the kids their own space with two exits to the back yard.  Our area had none. We had to go into the living room, through the dining room to two exits.  Perfect set up.  We planned to live in this house forever --whatever that means.  We didn't take out nursing home insurance nor life insurance.  We planned our demise in this home with its now too large of a yard.  One weekend our daughter and son-in-law visited us and announced, "We want to buy your house." Like manna from heaven, those words seemed.

We whipped out some plans. R and I had space to live in until we moved out.  No big changes would occur unless we all agreed.  A lawyer drew up the papers.  Our daughter began her plans to move into the area she and her brothers once inhabited: two bedrooms and a bath.  We'd have the same area we used: bath, study, bedroom.

However, we had the responsibility to pare down our belongings. You've had to do that also, haven't you? Loads of clothes, books, souvenirs from previous travel, collections of dishes --all disappeared within weeks.  The most difficult goodbye was to dishes I'd collected from my mother's day, some she'd used. Nothing fancy.  She bought them at the grocery store. Yes, even in the 1940s grocery stores offered dishes a piece at a time.  Long before this time I had given away our orange juice glasses that once held jellies; my first set of dishes, picked out before our wedding; vases and pots picked up at some Indian post out west; all difficult to whisper  "goodbye."

Several years ago I gave to oldest son the set of Lemoges china my parents bought directly from the factory in Paris on one of their last trips abroad. I was always afraid to use the pieces because if one broke there was no replacement, so I thought.  A few years ago in a shop in New Orleans I watched as the clerk in a china shop unpack a set of the same pattern of Lemoges I owned.  Their price for a set of six, with all serving dishes was $100.  I was anxious to buy the set.   I'd always have a replacement.  However, the wise old man with me put his foot down.

I've not decided what to do with my crystal dishes.  They are beautiful.  They mostly are for serving.  There are some dessert cups and small plates.  Right now they are lined on every surface of my bedroom.  In fact, the bedroom has everything I've no other place to store.  We sleep surrounded by mountains of down comforters, precious books, high school and college yearbooks, boxes of snapshots taken over fifty years, and loads of memorabilia saved for genealogy.  In short, our bedroom is a MESS.  However, since we are asleep most of the time while there, we don't worry about moving anything --yet.

Separating oneself from precious collections is no easy feat.  The easiest ones leave in boxes bound for Goodwill, the dearest ones sit quietly and unobserved until the pass-along fever hits. Not one to sit dripping from heat during a garage sale. In a few days I don't remember what I once owned.

In fact, this situation happened when my parents no longer could take of themselves. They moved in with us and said farewell to those ugly lamps, a collection of salt and pepper shakers,  pots and pans, dishes, and Daddy's clock repair tools. Occasionally, one would say, "I can't find that book on the Civil War." and I'd remind that a it sold at a library sale. So now R and I are repeating their experience and everyone else's who've had to move and pare down.

This move is no different from the need of our having to change environments.  What's important is to cooperate with our new owners, share in housework, eat what is served, and not worry about a dripping faucet, the failure to mow the yard, put out ant poison, or any of those natural responsibilities.  As our daughter says often, "It's your turn to sit back and relax. We'll take over."

Truly a beautiful feeling.