This week the “For Sale” sign went up in our front yard. A small caveat, “Coming Soon!”, warned folks we aren’t quite ready for prime time and looky-lou’s. What a bittersweet time this is. My son is home from college, leaving half-empty bottles of Gatorade around the house, getting calls at all hours, and constantly asking what there is to eat. My husband is distracted by phone calls from real estate agents, vendors, music institutes, and would-be employees. My sisters phone me with news about my mother’s tests, indicating she has cancer of her lungs, and how we are in a holding pattern until the doctors test her (some more) to decide how to proceed. I sit for hours winnowing through boxes of old documents, speeches I wrote for the executives of Diamond-Star Motors, ad copy I created, ad campaigns and focus groups that I ran, and bits of books and articles which never went anywhere.
On Saturday, David and I finished cleaning our newly remodeled garage. First I photographed the growth chart we made with black marker on one wall. We used that space to note Michael’s first bubble with bubblegum, the one and only baseball game his team won, and finally, “College Bound” which we stopped the car to add the day we set off to take him to school. Grumbling, he agreed to be pulled from the backseat, to stand against the wall, and to be measured against other years’ growth.
The next occupants of this house will find a freshly re-done garage, now insulated, dry-walled and with a painted floor. Plus a new built-in set of shelves. But no growth chart.
And of course, our house will soon be nearly empty of clutter. We tossed enough stuff to fill our SUV twice with items to take to Goodwill. I rummaged through my son’s old Beanie Babies, his crib bumper, and a doll that belonged to my mother. Those things I kept.
When the garage was done, we moved to work in our basement. We have 4,200 feet of livable space, with a lower level walk-out. On this walk-out level are three rooms: my office, a spare bedroom/storage area, a big screen tv viewing room, plus a large open area that used to have a pingpong table, weight set, pool table and pinball game. I worked my way through old storage boxes, looking sadly at Michael’s fingerpainting efforts, his cards to me saying “Mom, I love you more than Dad does!” and photos of pet chameleons which never lived long. We found an old jewelry box that belonged to David’s mother. I insisted that rather than dump the contents we stop and take it to a jeweler. We did. Good thing. There was an old garnet pin inside, which easily could have been taken for costume jewelry. David also unearthed a beautiful strand of pearls, larger and creamier than the one he bought me years ago.
So far we’ve replaced our roof, added bigger gutters, painted the front door, tiled two areas formerly linoleum covered, cleaned the carpets, had paint dings fixed, replaced the old laundry sink I hated with a sink/cabinet combo. I took a break while writing this for David to pull three ticks off of me. Ticks I am sure found me yesterday while we were planting lemon yellow marigolds and red salvia around our mailbox. Or while I planted the window boxes that sit merrily on the banisters of our deck.
About the time I planned to take a break and write, the real estate agent called. She had a young couple who were driving around and asked to see our house. The couple has three kids. David, Michael and I played “beat the clock” finishing up getting the house presentable.
As the couple walked through, I had to restrain myself. I wanted to tell them, “You think this is just a house, but it isn’t. It’s a place where a happy family has lived. A place where we raised my son. Where we laughed and loved and played together. It could be happy for your family, too.”
But I didn’t.