Monthly Archives: October 2014
As I’m sure most of my longtime readers know (you are out there, right?), both of my grandparents passed away last year. When my husband and I came back, we lived in their house for a time while we searched for our own house. We finally found a place and have been here now for about four months. In the time that we’ve been settling in, things have been unsettling at the old Howe homestead. Nearly a year later, it is coming time to sell my grandparents’ home and possessions.
It has been such a strange and difficult process. That home literally house, at various points, four different generations of the Howe family. Four generations. My grandparents lived there for nearly 60 years. It has been the place that we have all called home for so long that it’s hard to imagine it belonging to anyone outside of the Howe family.
But it is time. On October 30th at 5 p.m., my grandparents’ house will be sold to the highest bidder.
The house has been cleaned out. The articles that have been willed to various family members have been distributed. My grandfather’s impressive gun collection has gone to the Rock Island Auction. The rest of their possessions are going to Pittsfield to be sold in a day-long estate sale. The carpet has been torn up, revealing hardwood floors that I had never seen – and in beautiful condition, no less! There are no more bits of fine antique glassware stuffed into antique hutches and china cabinets. My grandpa’s chair is gone, and there are no more stacks of gun magazines, political books, and historical tomes stacked beside it. The TV no longer rings out old episodes of Gunsmoke, John Wayne films, or HGTV. The marble top tables, chairs, and cranberry glass light are all gone.
And so are they.
Now that their things are gone, I finally have to admit to myself that they aren’t coming back. Oh, of course, I knew it before; I’m not a child, and I’m not unfamiliar with death and loss. But still, as long as their things were there – as long as the books and the glass and the guns and the bourbon glasses and the coffee cups and the Suburban were still there, so were they. They were still alive to us in some tangible way. Now it is time to face the reality that their time has passed, and that that era of my life is well and truly over.
This has so many meanings for me personally. The hardest hitting is the fact that my “parents” are gone. They raised me just the same as they raised my mom and uncles. They were my folks, too. It’s very hard to have to face that not only are my biological parents gone, but my surrogate parents are, too. It’s so hard. And I miss them every day. Every day. Sometimes the notion of not thinking about them for a week is a welcome one, but then I think it wouldn’t be, because it will never happen, and also I wouldn’t want it to.
And there’s the feeling that I lack security. When your parents are gone, who’s going to look after you, if something goes wrong? You have to be the adult and look after yourself. Growing apart from one’s parents is an important step in life, but when they die, it forces that separation with true finality, and it stings, even if you’ve been on your own for years.
It also forces you to recognize uncomfortable truths about yourself and your life. My grandparents were fairly well off. I will admit that I was raised very spoiled and never wanted for anything. I am now in a phase of my life where I have little money and a hard time paying bills sometimes. It is a hard, bitter pill to swallow, that I may never again taste the life of luxury to which I was accustomed growing up. That makes me uncomfortable for so many reasons. It makes me feel wrong for having enjoyed it. It makes me feel wrong for not living up to expectations, real or imagined, theirs or mine. It makes me angry that I haven’t done better for myself, even though I could’ve done a lot worse.
But mostly, I’m just sad that it’s over – that chapter of my life, and the book of theirs. The settling of the estate will be bittersweet. On one hand, I’m ready to have it over and not have to think about it anymore. On the other hand, well, I already spelled it out. It’s over.
I try to look at the silver lining, which is that I have my own family, and I have new chapters of my own to pen. I have my own adventures to write, and it is now time for me to become special to someone the way my grandparents were (are) to me. That doesn’t take the pain away now, but I have to think that eventually, it will fade, at least a little. Enough that I don’t cry every time I leave their house. My house. Our house.
Whoever buys it, whosoever’s name is on the deed to the property, it will always be the Howe House to me. It will always be the place I call home, even when it isn’t mine to call such any longer. But it is time. It’s time.