I am moving out of my house that I have lived in for 35 years. And I’m doing it without the use of a dumpster or a moving van. I think that’s pretty amazing. Of course, there have been many trips to GoodwilI and thrift stores over the last two years. And some women have driven away (so far) three truckloads of stuff for charity.
It has been hard to let go of this home that I so love, but it has been great fun to give away things in it to people—like a favorite red, down-filled coat that is like wearing a cloud of warmth in the bitter cold days of winter. One of my good friends accepted it, and best of all, thinks of me when she puts it on to walk the dog. Of course, I have no need for it in Florida. In fact, I have no use there for most of my things.
Today I think I’m through the sadness and am now feeling very happy because of what happened yesterday morning. When the house sold a few weeks ago, I asked the buyer’s realtor if they might like to have anything in my house. She said, “No. They won’t want anything of yours. They have their own things.”
That turned out not to be true. A few days ago, I gave this realtor permission for the buyers to bring their parents to see the house. To my surprise, a group of about 9 to 11 people showed up—including their contractor. They were part of a baby shower gathering for the pretty wife who is soon to give birth. A bit put off that the realtor had not forewarned me about the crowd, I was, nevertheless, happy to get to meet this handsome, young couple.
While the crowd wandered everywhere, the mother-in-law and I chatted out on the deck. She asked if I was taking everything with me.
“Nothing but my pictures, files and clothes,” I said.
“Not the deck furniture?”
“No. Why? Would your kids want them?”
“Oh, I’m sure they would. They’re living in an apartment. They don’t have any outdoor stuff.”
“Well, of course!” I said. “I’m happy to give it to them.” The wood lounge chairs with comfy cushions, umbrellas, table, and chairs are perfect for this deck. I got up, went into the living room, passed their realtor, and went up to Greg, the young husband. “Your mother says you might like the deck furniture.”
“Sure!” he said.
“Why don’t you take my cell phone number, call me, and come back to look at anything else you might like.”
In the meantime, unfortunately, my washing machine broke and the sink in my bathroom started leaking from the trap below. “Oh, god!” I growled at the house. “Couldn’t you have waited til the closing in 10 days to start breaking down?” I started scrolling Craig’s List for a washing machine and asking around for a good plumber.
Greg, his wife, and parents to came to the house after breakfast the next day. To my delight, they wanted a lot more than I expected. The artificial trees in the far corners of the big living room with twinkling lights will stay, along with three bureaus, and a small stool-sized carpeted cat house that the wife loved for her two cats. “I’ve never seen one this sturdy!”
He said, “Are you taking the white hammock in the living room?” (They had spotted, hanging almost unnoticed against the wall with its delicate lacey fringe.)
“No. I’m not. Want it?”
“Yes!” They said enthusiastically, which delighted me. I have loved my hammock in the living room—so unusual but so relaxing and fun.
I told them about the sink and the washing machine, Greg said, “Don’t worry about it. We were going to get new ones anyway. And my dad and I can fix the sink. Or, I’ll have the contractor look at it.”
I discovered that they are upgrading the house exactly as I would were I to stay and had the money. I liked them more and more as I showed them light switches, how some things worked, and gave them the names of all the people who serviced the house and lawn.
Downstairs, I offered them my 4 ft long cow horns that I bought years ago and had wired to the front of my used Cadillac. It caused a lot of comment as I drove around conventional Connecticut. The couple laughed and said they would pass on the cow horns.
With every minute, I became happier that they were the ones who were going to move into my beloved house. As they were getting ready to leave, I said, “Let’s go into the living room for a minute.” They followed me. The parents stayed behind in the hall. I held out my hands. They took mine and each other’s. It was impulsive but it is something I do at the end of my acting classes. I closed my eyes and said a kind of prayer to the house, “Okay. I get that you may be sad or upset with me about leaving, breaking the washer and springing a tearful leak in my sink, but I want you to embrace this lovely couple who are going to bring new, energetic life into you. They are going to make you even better with their upgrades. So, I want you to love them as you have loved and sheltered me for so many years. I know they will love you as I have loved you, too.”
I opened my eyes and the wife had tears rolling down her face. I crossed to the desk and handed her Kleenex. The husband reached for a couple for himself. “Oh,” she said, “I love this house so much. We’re going to be so happy here!” I hugged her. Then, I hugged him.
We were all smiling as they left. I felt so happy and finally okay about leaving. I don’t know what impelled me to do that little ritual, but it was just what I needed to be able to transfer this sanctuary from my hands to theirs with joy.
P.S. Greg texted me last night saying, “We’d like the cow horns after all. We’ll put them up somewhere because it’s just such a great story.”