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.