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When Children Help

move_cartoon-florida-movingThere are have been some unexpected cherished times during this move to Husband’s and my new house. Although sorting, packing, hauling, unpacking, and ‘setting up’ house has almost done me a few times, I treasure some conversations with our children and Grands.

When Daughter-in-Law asked if we’d have room for all our furniture, I said, “We’ll probably sell a few things. Like the antique oak washstand. It’s not a family piece and it won’t go in our new kitchen.” Son muted the televised football game he was watching, and he tuned into our conversation. “Wait a minute,” he said. “What are you talking about? What’s a washstand?” I explained that it had always set in the kitchen by the bay window. “You mean the table where you put the little Christmas tree decorated with seashells?” Son asked. Yes, that’s a washstand.

He wrinkled his forward. “What do you mean it’s not a family piece?”

“It didn’t come down through your dad’s or my family,” I said. “We bought it a long time ago. Probably in the late 70s.”

Son leaned back in his reclining chair and tilted his head. “But it’s always been in your kitchen. It’s a family piece to me.” The washstand now has a place in a guest bedroom until Son wants to move it to his house.

Both Son and Daughter offered to help. Son said he’d fly across country to set up electronics and carry heavy boxes. We took a rain check on that. Daughter said, “Just tell me when to be there, Mom.” I thought she had enough to do homeschooling her children and her daily responsibilities as wife and mother. “I’ll come late afternoon or after supper,” she said. “And what about moving day? You’ll need your bed made and towels out and ready for a shower. I can do that.”

The tables have turned. Husband helped Son organize the garage in his new house last year. When Daughter was a college student, Husband and I helped her move into several dorm rooms and apartments and never left until the bed was made and the towels hung.

I recruited my 9 year-old Grand to help pack our playroom, a former bedroom filled with blocks, cars, dress-up clothes, Fisher-Price play sets, books, art supplies, and more. All saved from our children’s childhood and things I’ve bought because the Grands needed more toys. What to keep? What to cull? “Gran, keep the multi-colored, funny wig,” Lou said as she threw it in a packing box. “Get rid of this straw hat and these caps – nobody ever wears them. Keep these purses. The little girls (her younger sisters) like them.” Lou sorted quickly and she packed, placing things tightly, with no empty spaces. We finished an all-day task by lunchtime.

David, age 11, sat on the floor in the middle of our new garage. Papers with printed directions, metal shelves, screws, and bolts for Husband new workbench were scattered around my Grand. “Pop had some other things to do so I told him I’d do it,” David said. Two hours later he told me, “Some of pieces looked the same, but the directions were good, and I took my time.” Project completed.

One day only David and I were riding in my van and we’d talked about the official moving day. He asked, “Gran, are you happy about this move?” Yes, of course. “Aren’t you sad, too?” I nodded. “So are you more happy or more sad?”

I’m thankful for our children’s and Grands’ help. It’s made for a happy move.

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Leaving and Taking

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-6-35-24-amHusband and I are moving. Leaving the house we built. The yard we cleared of brush and saplings. The home where we raised children and welcomed Grands. Moving a short distance, only a mile. To a yard that’s much smaller than the 2.3 acres we cleared thirty-something years ago. To a house a bit smaller and making it our home.

It’s a good move. A move we’ve talked about for several years. A move that’s our choice.

We’re leaving our snow sledding hill.   Where the Grands learned to sled, learned to lean left to avoid hitting a tree, learned that their sledding turn wasn’t over until they pulled the sleds up the hill for someone else to have a turn. We’re taking the buyer’s promise that our Grands are welcome to sled anytime the hill is covered with snow.

We’re leaving the basketball goal. The goal set up on the concrete driveway before the house walls were painted. The goal that our children and Grands spent hours shooting a basketball through. We’re taking the ball and we’ll buy a portable goal.

We’re leaving the wedding steps. The outside yard steps built fourteen years ago so wedding reception guests could easily walk down our steep hill to celebrate with Daughter and Son-in-Law. We’re taking the memories and pictures of a long line of family and friends who visited as they slowly made their way down the steps to wedding punch and cake.

We’re leaving the creek. The shallow, narrow creek that’s perfect to wade in and build a dam across. To throw a leaf into and watch it float, to throw rocks into for a big splash, to gather smooth rocks, to dig in the mud. We’re taking the buyer’s welcome to come play anytime.

We’re leaving the dining room. The room where Son and Daughter-in-Law opened wedding gifts the day after their wedding while those who love them best sipped coffee and nibbled cinnamon rolls. Where Happy Birthday has been sung dozens and dozens of times. Where my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary supper and their teenage grandchildren wanted to eat and run and go to their high school’s football game. Where friends eat whatever is served – soup and cornbread or steak and shrimp. We’re taking the dining room table, the china, the silver, and making plans for family Christmas breakfast at our new home.

We’re leaving the very best ever next-door neighbors. Neighbors who watched our house and collected our mail when we vacationed and brought treats on every holiday. We’re taking their friendship.

We’re leaving trees. White oak, sycamore, tulip poplar, dogwood, maple. Trees we marked with yellow plastic strips to save from chain saws. Trees that drop brown and yellow and orange leaves. Trees where squirrels build nests and run along their branches. Trees I love. We’re taking memories of our children and the Grands jumping in just-raked leaf piles. Memories of the last yard clearing, for the year, on the day after Thanksgiving when family time was spent using leaf blowers, rakes, and huge tarpaulins to haul leaf piles to the woods.

We’re leaving a basement garage. We’re taking our cars to a main level garage.

We’re leaving one home and taking our beds, our clothes, our books, our coffeepot, and our welcome mat to a new home.

Oh, how I wish I could wave a wand to pack, move, unpack and be sitting with my knees under my writing desk. The move is good. The moving, not so good.

From Our House to Son’s

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-6-17-54-amWhen Son said, “This is the house our children will grow up in,” it was time to take him all his stuff. Son moved away from home more that twenty years ago. Went off to college and then moved into a 900 square foot house when he took his first real job. He married, he and Daughter-in-Law had three children, and they moved three times. And everything collected and saved from Son’s birth through college years has been safely stored at Husband’s and my house.

Now, Son’s family has settled into their forever home. So Husband and I started gathering stuff and making plans to drive 1295 miles to deliver treasures. We’d take the back seats out of my van and fill it full.

Would Son want everything that has been saved? Some things were going for sure: a cedar chest and a toy chest and toddler-size rocking chair that my dad made for him many years ago. High school yearbooks and a letter jacket. College fraternity scrapbooks. All the picture albums with his name on the spine. A purple and gold basketball from Tennessee Tech basketball camp. Quilts that he and his family had chosen from those my granny made.

I was surprised when we opened Son’s cedar chest. Forgotten treasures lay inside. A never used quilt, pillowcases cross-stitched by another great-grandmother, three stuffed Benjis – one so loved that its fur was flattened and matted. A cookbook, including Husband’s grandmother’s recipes, published by her Home Demonstration Club. Small treasures from his grandparents’ homes. Things that Son chose when he was young. A vintage white chicken candy dish. A small wooden black bear with a note tied to it. My mom had written, “Papa and I got this when we went to the Smokies for our honeymoon in 1939.” Would these things mean anything to Son at this stage of his life?

Then there was a pile of questionable stuff. Should we take a leather belt with a big western buckle? A guitar that Son strummed for a few weeks when he was 14 and bored and snow storms closed school for a month? Cassette tapes? A blanket he bought at a flea market when he went to camp one summer? A collection of twenty-year-old Sports Illustrated magazines? Rifles – the 22 he learned to shoot as his grandfather stood over his shoulder? A Civil War rifle passed down through generations? His first B B gun? A Santa Claus cookie jar? And so much more.

Son and I talked using Face Time. I held my phone camera in front of items. Yes, the belt. Yes, the guitar. “Does it still play?” he asked. No, cassette tapes. Yes, to everything else, including all three Benjis. “Unless you don’t have room and I’ll get some stuff another time.” There’d be room. Husband and I were determined.

Daughter-in-Law’s parents brought treasures. Her great-grandmother’s desk with fragile curved legs and a mirror and jars of her grandmother’s homemade blackberry jelly.

Loading the van was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that didn’t fit. Husband measured and wrapped and taped. We wedged and padded and filled every possible space. After three hours, we declared that everything would travel securely and not rattle during our journey. Husband drove around the block just to make sure.

How would Son and Daughter-in-Law and their three young children react when they see all this stuff? Stuff that’s theirs. Mostly stuff that has been in the house where Son grew up.