When I bought this house from my parents, Dad had already been in care for a year, and Mom did the smartest kind of move, ever: she simply selected the things she wanted to take to her new place and left me with the rest.
She’d actually tried to ditch things while Dad was still at home, but every time she put something to the curb, he’d bring it back in. The only reason he’d even allowed the house to be sold was because I bought it.
It’s nearly 20 years on and I’m still sorting through “the rest.” With Ari, 21, making noises about his own impending independence, I picture trying to pack this place up to sell it and I shudder. Five decades of many lives leaves a mark and I highly doubt I can find a buyer who will let me select the things I want and abandon the rest. The fact remains, however, that this is too much house for me and I’m finally OK with letting it go.
Ari and his girlfriend Taryn have been collecting furniture, all neatly shrink-wrapped in the garage. We have a massive sectional couch in the rec room and the other night I mentioned that it should really be at the cottage, where the flip-out bed is much needed.
The big bunk beds in Ari’s old room are also destined to head north and suddenly, someday felt like this day.
“We can get the stuff up there,” said Ari. “We can put our couches up here in the rec room and get them out of the garage, and we can get Taryn’s bed set up in my old room.”
The cottage-bound furniture is the kind you buy when you want something good, something permanent. It’s what you buy when you’re through with hand-me-downs and good-enough-until-everybody-is-potty-trained. It was furniture for a beginning.
The timing made sense. I had a big pickup truck in the driveway that week and within 24 hours, Ari had assembled a second one and a couple of extra boys.
When Ari is motivated, things happen. Fast. They somehow loaded four pieces of couch down the stairs and into the trucks, leaving the beds for another trip. The plan was a quick trip up, move old stuff out and new stuff in, and then head back home.
I watched the boys at the dock from my perch on my new-again couch. I watched them diving into the lake, laughing, determined to make the most of the hour we’d have there. I looked at the coffee table in front of me, still sporting the many sets of parallel gouges where Ari had teethed on it one summer. We need a roof on the cottage this year, and Ari told my brother-in-law he’d be there to help.
The deck on the house needs replacing, so Ari has assembled a plan – and the needed shoulders – to build a new one. Christopher is eyeing the siding through the eyes of a young man who has a new job and is promising improvement. All this while I’m still sorting Lego and dinky cars out of forgotten cupboards.
Back home, Ari and I surveyed the emptied out rec room.
“I just realized, when we move out, you’ll have two empty rooms,” he suddenly said.
I smiled, thinking that I’d never had empty rooms and knowing that each one would make the transition easier. Unlike my father, I think I can honour the past without being welded to it.
Except for a certain chewed up coffee table. That I’m keeping.