When my father died last year, the house at the beach was passed on to me and my brothers. At first, we planned to sell the house. But the more I thought of that house and all the happy memories I had there, the more I wanted to keep the house.
Fortunately, my oldest brother who lives in Savannah wanted to keep the house as well. So we did, and this past weekend, I met with my brother and sister-in-law to talk about the house. What we needed to fix, needed to replace, that sort of thing.
Now, left up to me, because as I may have mentioned before I’m a kind of laissez-faire person (which sounds ever so much better than lazy), everything looked just fine and dandy to me. Mom and Dad’s furniture, Mom and Dad’s colors, Mom and Dad’s style. But it became apparent that my sister-in-law wanted to make a lot of changes. New furniture, new colors, new style.
I think she was a little nervous, too, trying to be sensitive–or maybe respectful–of my feelings. But here’s the thing: I understood her need to make the house a home for her and her family, so that she didn’t feel like she was living in some sort of shrine to my parents. And of course, she wanted me to be happy with the changes as well; mostly, she didn’t want to tread on my memories.
It’s a fact, I miss my mom and dad. But no amount of paint, or new appliances, or beachy style would make me forget my parents. They’ll always be with me in that house because they’re always in my heart.
My hairdresser–isn’t it weird how we tell our hairdressers everything?–said my attitude was unusual, that most people would have difficulty letting go. Maybe that’s so, but I was raised by a woman who was constantly throwing out or giving away my stuff. Sometimes, while I was still using it.
So maybe I learned a long time ago that things are not memories, or that letting go–whether it’s people I love, or stuff I love, or even words I love in a manuscript–helps me move on to joy rather than sadness.
What about you? Do you agree with my hairdresser? Or are you more like me? (Um….I did keep a few things, like my dad’s desk, and my mom’s secretary; I’m not a barbarian. And a few books and some pictures. Little things. A note on the fridge in my mom’s handwriting…
Okay. Well. I kept a lot of writing-related stuff. I think that’s perfectly okay, don’t you?)