September 3, 2009 by 8junebugs
Starting Friday, I’ll be packing up Mom’s house and finding homes (or estate auctions) for a lifetime’s leftovers. I’m heading for Vermont, and I have two goals: empty out the house for new (probable) owners, and celebrate the wedding of my cousin (and spare little brother).
We’re under contract with a young family in love with the house. If all goes well, the closing is set for September 25. If all goes even better, we could close even sooner.
I was starting to feel pretty anxious about this weekend and what I need to get done. I had similar tasks to accomplish at Christmas, and I was inefficient, ineffective, and probably a little haunted. I was worried about trying to stay in the house, shower and eat and sleep in the house, while trying to clean out the house.
Yesterday, I booked a motel room for the first three nights and felt better immediately. It was a last-minute decision that I had to explain to the obliging innkeeper a couple of times (“Yes, I’m coming up tomorrow. Ayup, I do mean the 3rd.”). I know I have family and friends whose homes are open to me, but it’s rude to ask the day before…and I need a quiet, neutral space.
A space that has cell phone reception and wifi. (This motel had a pool when I lived up there, but it’s gone now…oh, well.) Being able to reconnect with the rest of my life at the end of each day may help me stay focused. I can spend as much time with my family and friends as I want, and that can be emotional…putting all of it, business and emotion, into one house on a hill, is just too much right now.
The buyers have two little girls and a baby boy, and we like the idea of little kids running around on that hill again. Since accepting their offer, I’ve felt like leaving a letter for them, especially the girls…a la the Bush twins to Sasha and Malia.
Then their parents dicked around with the offer amount and I felt less inclined to tell them where I buried that treasure…
I would tell them a few things, though:
- There are no good climbing trees on the property. There are hickory and birch trees, but no maples. Hickory nuts make a small, mysterious plop when they land on the roof.
- There should still be a hula hoop in one of the trees near the fenceline, courtesy of one Roger Pidgeon. Let that be a lesson to you about boys and their hidden motives.
- There are a couple of tiny wild strawberry plants on the lower hill, but you’ll never get enough for shortcake. You should still try, though. Every year.
- The best place to read is on a swing on the front porch. This is also the best place to experience a thunderstorm.
- All chipmunks climbing in and around the rock wall are to be addressed as Gertrude.
- The hills are problematic for sledding, each in its own way. Get your parents to take you over to the hill by the Billingses (if they still live there…or if not).
- We used to have a big sandbox under the front porch. Good place for it, we think.
- By April, you’ll want to throw the doors open and let in the spring air. Remember that this is when the ground thaws and Clarence Deering will spread a winter’s worth of manure on his fields. Just FYI.
- Even with all the hills, you can still have a swingset.
- We think the best place for a Christmas tree is on the hearth where we used to have the coal stove, in front of the exposed chimney in the living room. You can get a really, really big one in there.
- Unless the bus routes have changed for the school district, you can see the bus cresting West Street from the living room windows. Once you see the bus, you have about seven minutes to get down the driveway.
- My uncle and his wife live across the hill to the East. You should know he makes really cool toy boxes.
- The basement floor is really good for rollerskating.
- All the tennis balls under the porch back were lost and forgotten there by loyal and friendly Rottweilers.
One of my cousins, who I struggle to remember is not 8 years old, is getting married on Sunday to a lovely young woman he met at college.
I’ve rarely been as impressed with how a young boy has grown into a man as I have with this guy. He and KidBrother acted and looked like twins when they were little and have remained best friends ever since — KidBrother will be his best man (and had better be working on that speech…). He was one of the shyest in our family, always stepping back, always quiet, always unsure. We didn’t know until later that he had a learning disability. Once he learned how to work with that, he found his way.
It surprised a lot of us when he joined the Army, then worried the hell out of us when his division was one of the first deployed to Afghanistan in 2001. He was later deployed to Iraq, and his war stories have had more of an effect on me than anything my parents ever tried to teach me about politics and foreign policy.
(Wait. They didn’t try to teach me about that. Whoopsie.)
He’s gone through a lot, over the years, and has come out wanting to make a difference. He’s already won some important fights…and he’s not even 30.
Mom loved all her nieces and nephews, but this one was special to her. It never mattered to him that she and Dad got divorced. She asked him once why he always stopped in the shop for a hug whenever he came through Middlebury — he didn’t have to, anymore.
“You’re my Aunt Jeanne,” he said. And that was that.
The last time I saw him, and the first time I met his fiancee, was the day of Mom’s memorial service.
A week or so ago, he asked me to do one of the readings during the ceremony, an honor I much appreciate. I asked if he needed me at the rehearsal, but he said no, he didn’t want to put me to any trouble. I said I was coming up to Vermont early, anyway, because I need to clean out Mom’s house for the sale.
“Oh,” he said. “I could give you a hand with that. When are you…hey, I could come down and help…”
My reading is Romans 12:9-16 and includes the verse “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
No, kid…but thank you. Thanks just for growing into the intelligent, opinionated, caring man you are. Mom loved you very, very much, and I do, too.
Now is the time for all of us to rejoice with you.