Friday, August 13, 2010

It's gone

The house where my great-grandparents lived. The house where my grandfather was born. The house where my grandparents lived. And where my mother was born and raised. The house where I spent every single day playing in the garden when I was a kid. Climbing in the cherry tree, cuddling rabbits, or spending hours in the attic reading old love letters from my dad to my mom. Where my grandfather engraved, in a piece of concrete floor, my name and the date on which I made my first steps. It’s gone. Three generations of family-history sold to strangers, who have no idea of the sentimental value it holds.

Sure, I’ve dreamed many many times of living in that house myself. I thought about how I would renovate it. How I would hold all the animals I ever wanted in the huge garden. But then my life took a different direction and the country-girl ended up in the city. Yes, I still wanted the house. But what about living in the middle of nowhere? Or what about a daily commute to work of at least two hours every single day? And finally: what about a husband who wants to live in a (big) city, period?
So when my grandmother died end of last year, I knew it would happen. The house had to be sold. Over the last few months, my mom has been trying to empty it (whenever she felt fit enough). Not an easy job. Three generations of pictures, lettres, books, clothes, furniture, etc. I went along once. We spent 4 hours in the house, and when we left, we had made no progress whatsoever. We had looked at pictures, and my mom told me everything she remembered about them. We had read old letters. And so on.

I should’ve helped my mom more. But instead I fled away from the whole “we have to empty the house”. It was just too painful, and I couldn’t be confronted anymore with my own decision of not living there – and keeping the house and all its memories in the family.
Yesterday my mom called me to tell me it was sold. To a young couple. Who are not afraid of living in the countryside. And I’ve been feeling awful. My chance of living there is now forever gone. There’s no use anymore of dreaming about how I would make the attic where I read all the love lettres into one big bedroom with a view on the garden and its cherry trees.

I have to go back one last time. I want to take pictures. Of my name in concrete. Of the cherry tree. But how am I going to keep the feeling that I always had there? The warmth of history, the feeling that my roots are there, the presence of family, even if they’re no longer with us?


Anonymous said...

My Grandma passed away two months ago,and we are in the process of emptying out the house both my mom and I grew up in. I had many of the same thoughts as you, wanting to continue the tradition, and live in the house. Unfortunately, her passing happened a lot sooner that I was expecting, and owning a house right now isn't in the cards. So I'm trying to prepare myself to say goodbye.
It's the memories you have of the place, not the place itself that you have to keep in your heart. Hopefully, time will make it easier for both of us.

N said...

Thanks for your comment. It really means a lot to me to read that other people are experiencing the same feelings. Makes me feel understood and less "alone" :-).