So, amidst my various health issues there's been an additional saga going on regarding the house we're buying . One thing after another has delayed the purchase. But as of today we are looking at a closing date of around mid to late May (barring anymore unforeseen glitches). All this means we will have to pack up 16 years of our life here at the cottage in a matter of about six weeks. It seems an almost impossible task.
This is actually the longest I have lived anywhere. From the time I first left my parents home at 17 until I came here at the age of thirty I moved over ten times. Of course, I wasn't moving in and out of houses, just apartments or back home with the folks...and I didn't have two kids to pack up back then either so I traveled a little lighter. But clearly I'm a little rusty at the whole moving thing now after all these years of staying put. Guess you could say this stone has gotten quite mossy for lack of rolling ;)
The process of packing inevitably inspires a few trips down memory lane as you dig around the dark corners of basements, attics and closets. You can’t help but start thinking about your past, good bad or indifferent. That will be an about face for me of late since everything has been so hyper-focused either on the immediate present of illness or the uncertain future of questionable longevity. Perhaps as nerve-wracking as this moving ordeal will be it might also serve as a good thing -- a welcome change of perspective as I look backward for a little bit. It will be a chance to sort thru some of the junk, both literally and figuratively speaking.
I remember when my mother sold the home I was raised in. While I loved the gracious old house itself and I do have some fond memories growing up there, there were also quite a few recollections I would have gladly not packed up and taken with me. But even with all that, I still found myself feeling very emotional as I stood in what was my old childhood bedroom, the last one to leave the house on the closing day. I whispered goodbye aloud because it felt like the house needed to hear it as much as I needed to say it. For a long while whenever I drove by the street I couldn't look, couldn't bear to see the evidence of someone else living in my home.
My late grandmother kept the house she raised my father and his sister in till the day she died. That house was her life and her determination to stay there is actually what killed her in the end. Although healthy well into her 80’s she was not very surefooted. One tragic day she fell down the stairs. Days later she died of her injuries. It was a shocking end and seemed so preventable. In fact all of us had tried to get her to give up the home, to move into some sort of assisted living arrangement or even just a single floor condo or flat. But she had packed the house from cellar to rooftop with trinkets and treasures. And then there were her cats…if you were a stray within a 50 mile radius you knew to go to Hazel’s house – at one time she had nearly a dozen cats. She just couldn’t imagine limiting the population of either felines or material objects to fit into a smaller space.
After she died, some in my family were filled with regret and remorse for not having tried to force her into leaving, myself included. But in retrospect I think her life ended as she would have wanted. The prospect of uprooting her self and her belongings might have proven worse and hastened her death more than the fall. She died in her beloved home. That is where she wanted to be after living a long and full life. That is how she wanted to die. I understand that more than ever now.
I’ve never felt quite that way about any place I’ve lived, you know, loved it so much that I would make such a significant sacrifice. But I can imagine feeling that way very easily…I’ve always been a born romantic when it comes to houses.
The house we live in now is a wonderful little place, but it never quite felt permanent…it was supposed to be a starter house though we ended up staying way longer than we originally intended. In fact we actually tried to move once before, years ago. We had a buyer at the ready but when we began hunting for a new house it quickly became apparent that even by spending more money we wouldn’t be able to find anything that we liked all that much better in our price range at the time.
After we’d returned home from what ended up being the last day out with the realtor, my husband stood in the driveway, looked at the house and said what I thought was, “Thistle dew.” It took me a few minutes to realize he’d actually said, “This’ll do,” as in this house would do instead of moving. From that day forward our little home was named Thistle Dew Cottage. It fit. All these years we’ve thought it wasn’t grand or very special, but it was fine, it was quite nice. It would do.
And now it is finally time to say farewell. Some of the very happiest times of my life have been spent in this house...both my children were born while we lived here and Michael and I started our married life together shortly before we moved in. We've surely faced our share of challenges and weathered storms here too, especially this last year. This house has contained it all, it's part of the very fabric of our memories, the background for the most important moments of our lives, good and bad. And even though we are moving up, going somewhere bigger and better it will be very hard to say goodbye. Thistle Dew Cottage turned out to be special after all, just by virtue of being our home, the place where our lives happened around us. Within these walls a family was created. I will miss this place and hold it in my heart forever.
PS: it turns out not to have been goodbye...we are still here, apparently this'll still do :)