Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Empty

This is the first visit back to The Ranch since February that fact that my parents are not coming back has truly hit me.

It started Saturday morning, when I stopped by to see TB The Elder on my way up to The Ranch after my arrival.  He seemed in good spirits, perhaps a little stronger physically, and carried on a conversation which, again, seemed to make have no relation to anything that I could understand.  It extended to Sunday, when I stopped and saw my mother.  We had a pleasant 40 minute conversation, mostly me talking about updates on the family - but I completely carried the conversation.  When we were done, I walked her in, gave her a hug, and came back.

And the house was empty.  Empty in a way it has not been before.

My parents have their clothes - or clothes that they use (On a side note, this seems to be a thing in memory care facilities.  My father and mother are always nicely dressed, but it seems like most of the time it is not in the clothes we sent with them.  It is okay of course:  the clothes are in good repair and clean and in some cases, my father has never dressed better in his life.  But it can be a bit jarring the first time).  My father has some pictures, my mother some pictures and some furniture.  But really, that is all from their lives - and that is all they truly need right now.

Suddenly, the house is not "them" anymore.  It is a place with stuff they purchased and kept over the years, but not "them".  Their presence is in the items here, not in a sense of them.

I am sure over the months as I continue to come back, the house will seem like less "them" every time, as their presence continues to recede from here.  The items all remain the same, of course - right now there is neither time nor particular need to sort anything, although to some extent this is probably also driven by the fact that I do not want to face the truth that by doing this on an organized scale, I am essentially confessing the obvious:  They are not coming back.  And the one who seems troubled by this seems to be me, not them.

When my maternal grandfather passed away, my Aunt J inherited their house.  For years she did nothing with it other than maintain it.  The items were all the same inside, circa 1960's and 1970's.  I always wondered why it ended up taking her almost 10 years to begin to do anything with the house at all.

I think I understand more clearly now.

8 comments:

  1. Focus, friend:

    Their passage is not complete. They are still here and only shades remain. All your attention must be on them.

    Perhaps when their passage is complete, there will be all kinds of time for the forsaken desolation that sets in when dealing with their effects. Don't loose your bearings or get ahead of yourself. Cherish what you have while you have it... even if it is only shades.

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    1. Thanks Glen. You speak wisdom. I feel as if I must act now, when in point of fact very little needs to be done except maintain.

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  2. Anonymous5:26 AM

    When my MIL passed away in '98, my wife was a bit upset that she didn't end up with her house. I told her I thought the memories would be sad. The house was no longer her Mom's.

    My wife and her Mom were very close and it was hard on the entire family. She was sick but not THAT sick. An Asthma attack triggered a heart attack and she was gone suddenly. She had just baby sat our son the previous day, we spending the night there. There was no warning of what was to happen later that night. But one strange thing.

    My MIL had commented that our son was smiling all around him all day. She commented that there must have been a lot of angels around. We had a nice dinner and then left for home.

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    1. Anonymous, oddly enough I have the same sense about the times i have been to my grandparents house. I would think the memories there would make me happy, but they do not. Just sad.

      I am sorry about your mother in law. But I firmly believe in such things as Angels being there, especially in moments such as those.

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  3. *Hugs* God bless and comfort you all, TB.

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    1. Thank you Linda. All is well. Some days just seem harder than others.

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  4. When my grandparents entered their last stations in life, we were required to sew labels with their name into all their clothing so that it could be returned properly after cleaning. Still they occasionally ended up with something that wasn't labeled in their drawers.

    I can really identify with the house being empty. The farm house I spent the latter years of my life in has essentially been empty for the last two and a half years. My first handful of returns always did a number on my heart, as their presence was so thick in the beginning. I would find myself just sitting in a chair somewhere lost in thoughts and absorbing their presence. But as the time has gone by, that feeling is fading away. Now it is more like looking at an old photograph where all the details are still recognizable but it is and feels from a distant past in a world that has moved on.

    In a rare trip home last year, we helped my dad clean out a lot of the closets where mom stored things and promised to take care of them. Due to covid, they had been piled next to me here in my office waiting. Last week I sold the bulk of it at a garage sale and gave most of the other things away. It was a bit sad but the reality is I can't keep everything forever and if I did, my kids would soon get rid of it for it means nothing to anyone but me. But now that most of it is gone, it is a bit liberating. I can focus more on those things that do mean a lot.

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    1. Ed, we had a similar situation, in this case writing their names on the clothes. Still, what they wear now is as nice or nicer than what they brought. Honestly, I scarcely think they notice.

      You have phrased it well. Everything here is, in my mind, associated with them. I write this sitting in exactly the same spot my mother would read her books and do her word puzzles and watch television for 20 years. And so much of their stuff has come from other relatives as well. The house reeks of history and heritage which, in my heart of hearts, I know I am the only at this point that will likely know it or carry it on.

      I think we will get to where you did. We have to. I will start with the non-personal and easily eliminated items first, things that have no more association than they were here. That will be easier.

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