How does one say goodbye to your childhood home?
After over forty-three years, our cream-colored brick ranch in the western suburbs of Chicago will no longer be ours. Over the last two and a half years we have spent countless hours first preparing it for my father to return after his stroke. Sadly, that wasn’t in the plan. When Dad didn’t come home, we became aware that being alone in the place that held so many memories was not the right fit for my mother any longer. Mom was able to find a fantastic new community and we are so grateful.
Still there was the house.
This was not your ordinary ranch. Growing up in a legally registered museum in the state of Illinois, you can only imagine that we would have many items to sort. We had to find proper homes for all these treasures once we decided to put our house on the market. There were decades of research, correspondence, patents, 1000s of books and then the physical collections themselves. Everything from antique thimbles to a Model T. Where does one begin? It ALL had a story and oh how my father would love to “learn you” if you would give him the chance. Depending on who might be visiting various trays of oddities would be laid out along with their provenance to prove that this combination carpet tack puller and corkscrew was vital to evolution of modern society!
As weeks became months and months became a year plus, we were making headway. How grateful am I for my husband’s keen ability to project manage and still remain as sensitive as one can to the memories that happened before you inherited your in-law family. This was a daunting task and not for the faint of heart. Forty plus years of collecting and we aimed to have the house empty and on the market in five months. Could it be done? After garage sales, auctions, and copious storage locker trips, these treasures were all finding new homes.
On one of our last visits to the house I decided to walk through each room and say goodbye. A wave of smiles, laughter, and tears overcame me. How could this place once so full of physical items now empty, still be full? With extreme gratitude for the shelter, the memories, and love that always emanated from this address it was time to leave. I took one last pass through the basement. Walking through where the collections used to reach floor to ceiling, the only things that remained were a few broken floor tiles and an empty showcase still awaiting pick up. I reached to pull the chain to turn off the light in the back. My shoe hit an object. As I looked down I saw it was one of my Fisher Price ® toys that I probably haven’t seen since the middle 70s. How could this be here? Everything else was gone. Had I not noticed it before? When I reached down to pick it up not only was it one of my childhood toys, but perhaps my favorite character – the doctor. My father was a doctor. I gave it a quick kiss. “Thank you for the sign, Dad. We’ll leave this place together,” I said. I turned off the lights and headed upstairs with the long-lost toy in my pocket and love in my heart.
This week a new family will be moving in. My parents often said this prayer aloud when leaving home, “Bless this house and ALL who come in and go out.” I couldn’t agree more. We have been blessed and now it is time to share those blessings with another family. Thank you little cream-colored ranch!