It’s been half a century since this bedroom furniture was hauled up those 14 steps to the second floor of my parents’ former home. I hoped it might be easier going down after all this time, but it wasn’t.

My parents let the moving van crew handle the heavy lifting back then, so they simply directed traffic as their possessions were brought into the house.

Now, Mom and Dad are with us only in spirit.

My sister and I decided this summer that moving everything out could be done ourselves, on the cheap, if we waited until the cooler weather of October. We waited, but the temperatures remained in the 90s. Thankfully, her two sons, in their early 20s, plus a good friend who’s like another brother, volunteered to provide the needed muscle. I had arrived a couple of days earlier to, well, direct traffic.

Compensation for their labor?

“All we have to do is feed them,” my sister explained. They earned every bite.

They are young, yes, but even in their early 20s, they are older than I was when our family settled into this sprawling North Carolina subdivision. My sister and I were still in school when we moved in. Today, we’re both retired.

It’s hard work to move out — harder still to realize we’ll never be coming back. Two weeks later, the bedroom of my youth has been relocated and reassembled in Texas.

Mom passed in May, having lived as a widow for almost as long as she and Dad were together. From across the great divide, I can almost see her wince. She hated the word “widow.” She told her pastor as much when she initially declined his invitation to attend the “widows fellowship” at church.

The time has come to give up the home that for so long had been our comfortable place to gather and celebrate holidays, birthdays, and — for us in Texas — summer vacations. It’s time for this house to be home to another family.

The furniture is gone, scattered among relatives or given to charity. My sister — 10 years younger — was too small to recall our parents’ house looking this bare when we arrived in 1968, but I remember. It’s empty again except for a few boxes yet to be sorted.

It was the summer before I started college, when Dad was transferred from New Mexico to North Carolina. He welcomed returning to an area we left three years earlier. Living in the Southwest was a challenging time professionally and emotionally for my parents, but for me, it was an exciting experience. I was a teenager growing up.

Before the move, Dad’s company sent us to that North Carolina city for a week, expenses paid, to find housing. My folks looked at maybe three houses each day but found nothing they liked. Still, Dad felt pressure not to leave town empty-handed. Even though Mom said she hated it, Dad convinced her to buy this house because of its proximity to his new office. At least the commute was short, plus it had a huge backyard.

Barely a year old, the house was too big for one couple, the original owners had decided. Even so, it’s less spacious than the house we left in New Mexico. Dad promised Mom they would move to another place in a year or two. That never happened. Mom lived for more than half her life in a house that, at first, she didn’t like.

In Mom’s final years, the house she didn’t want became the home she resisted leaving, even when her ailments made it difficult to stay. Mom went to her eternal home while napping where her daughter lives.

My sister grew up in that house. If it’s this difficult for me to turn in my keys, I can only imagine her feelings.

 

Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at news@brownwoodbulletin.com.