Women seem to go through many passages in their lives. Gail Sheehy wrote a famous book about it, and those of us who are a bit “seasoned” have experienced it. Some passages are good, and some not so much. But, all passages teach us important things about our lives and our place in the larger picture that is Life.
This week is an important passage for me. I am closing down my family home of more than 70 years, packing all the memories into boxes to be shared with family members and friends, and turning over the keys to another family to build memories of its own. This all is good, but it is some times hard to see the good through the tears.
I lived in that house full time for the first 18 years of my life, and I have visited it and revisited it for almost 50 years more. It is a lovely and welcoming old house, and going there was always a pleasure. When I was a child, people would stop by just to ask about the house. I think they sensed something special, as well.
It is where I learned to walk, ride a bike, read, play the piano, experience broken hearts, apply to college and plan my wedding. That house was my port in the storm, complete with the cubby holes I squeezed into to feel safe and secure. The saying that a house has “good bones” is reflective of that home. Bones are the support that we need so that we literally do not fall apart. That was true of my childhood home.
But, even with those strong and positive recollections, it still would be easy to regret the passing of our life — my family’s life together —in that house. And, I would not be above such regret and sadness. Except for one thing, or one person, more appropriately. My mother. She is almost 99 years old, and it was her house more than anyone’s. She lived in it longer than anyone, and she loved it. However, she has shown remarkable grace in aging, and she does not regret. She is philosophical and practical, and she makes it all easier for the rest of us.
I learned a lot from that house, but, most of all, I learned a lot from the people in it. I also learned a lot there from my father, who is no longer with us, and my memories of him are most vivid when I approach his reading chair where I can hear the music he loved in the background. I will miss that.
Here I am reminded of one of my children’s favorite bedtime stories, “Goodnight, Moon,” which I surely read to them often in that house. But, today, it is something more than Goodnight, Moon. It is something so much more personal and poignant.
Today it is Goodnight, House.