“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~Anatole France
Home. That’s the word I chose to guide my year in 2015.
“It might mean fewer words see the light this year, but I want my people–my family and friends–to find themselves in a peaceful dwelling place when they come through my door. I want them to find themselves in an undisturbed place of rest–in a secure and hospitable home, a place that can be opened to company at a moment’s notice without panic, a place where quiet grace is served,” I wrote.
Things didn’t go exactly as envisioned.
In May, my daughter’s home burned. She and the girls moved in with a friend but had to move out when the friend sold her house. They moved in with us in, I think, October. The months have melded, and the days have been anything but quiet.
Towards the end of the year, we decided to move ahead with some of the projects we wanted to start. We ordered flooring and planned a new kitchen. I finished stripping the wallpaper. And, by the way, mark my words: I will never, ever again hang wallpaper. We ordered cabinets, which arrived just before Christmas and made great cardboard buffet serving stands while stacked in the house awaiting installation, which began after the first of this year.
After Christmas, our family (my dad, sister, niece and her son, our kids and their families) gathered together at a beautiful VRBO house in my hometown for a couple of days of fun and games. We had a blast, and it was the first time we’d all been together since my mom was in the hospice home four years prior. I see those days now as a kind of foreshadowing–almost a forecast as sure as the snowstorm that hit while we were there.
In some sense, my word was still giving my days some focus.
Sometime in December my husband’s boss mentioned an open position in the South Florida office. My husband laughed. “We’re having a pretty mild winter,” he said. We had no intentions of moving away from family, and I had intentions of being buried under this porch.
His boss laughed. “I’ll check back with you in February.”
In January, in the midst of renovation upheaval, I began my new gig as a babysitter. I kept my new grandgirl a couple days a week to help ease the financial burden of daycare and to facilitate bonding, so important to my son. It was a “job” I took on after a great deal of trepidation and prayer. Because my son lived 30 miles away, we met halfway in a Quality Dairy parking lot for “pickup and delivery,” and I was grateful for our mild winter. Only on one trip did I drive with white knuckles on black ice. The whole gig turned out to be more joy than job.
Also in January I began to have trouble with my left knee. I figured I’d overdone over the holidays and in carrying things up and down stairs in preparation for workers. I finally went to the doctor who considered a torn meniscus but found, instead, “extensive degenerative change.” I thought I heard him order my husband to sell our house, build or buy a ranch, and install a pool. “I feel changes coming on,” I wrote, and I entrusted the Still Saturday linkup to my sweet friend, Lisha.
Then came the day (in February?) I lost it in the Quality Dairy parking lot when my son informed me that they were moving to Jacksonville, Florida–1000 miles away–to begin a new season as a franchisee with Two Men and a Truck’s offices there and in St. Augustine. We watched him and the wee grands and the inlaws drive away with two Penske trucks the day before Easter.
Please, God. Too many changes. Too much. Too close together.
My husband told his boss our son was moving. The position in South Florida was still open. “Ft. Lauderdale is a lot closer to Jacksonville than you are now,” his boss said (or something to that effect.)
I didn’t choose a word for 2016. I figured I’d stick with “home” for another year, but I kept hearing the word, “disengage.” A friend told me it might be better to consider the word, “focus,” but that wasn’t encompassing what I was feeling–the need to not be a fixer, to nurse other people’s problems. To back away from words that brought me down, from situations I couldn’t fix and had no control over and that were literally making me sick. I was feeling like I needed to focus on this new “gentle journey” of caring for myself in this season of life, of slowing down and letting what was really important surface.
Little did I know.
Because, friends, my husband called his boss, and that position in South Florida? It was still open–waiting for him, it seems.
And so, I’m disengaging. I’m disengaging from a life I’ve known here in this house, where I’ve lived for over 25 years, longer than anywhere else in my life. It’s the house my husband grew up in and our kids grew up in. I’m seeing my crabapple bloom for the last time, watching my peonies rise from the dirt, watching my lilacs bud. I’m seeing the fog hover on the field with new eyes, drinking in every sunrise and sunset, and weeping over a heat lamp in the chicken house. (More on that another time.) I’m disengaging from “stuff.” Last month we re-homed the psychodogs to gentler surroundings. I’m disengaging from a life here in my Pure Michigan.
A few days after spring had sprung, we had a snowstorm and drove to church on super yucky roads. “Maybe,” said my husband, “this is God’s way of telling us we made the right decision.”
Grace told me the other day before she went off to school, “I hope you don’t die today.”
“I do, too,” I said. “But why do you say that?”
“Because we’d have to bury you under the porch like you made us promise, and then Papa couldn’t sell the house.”
We just had to evict another tenant from our rental house. We’re going to sell the house to our daughter, and she and her friends are frantically working to make in liveable. As soon as she can move, we will put this house on the market. We are hoping the contractors will arrive this week to begin work on our main bathroom. I’m frantically slinging the paintbrushes Susan sent me last year. My husband leaves for Ft. Lauderdale on May 16. I’ll follow when I tie things up here with a big red bow. And I’m keeping my eye on the this piece of tin art created by a gentleman in Haiti for Vibella Jewelry. The dream stone from Sturgeon River Pottery was “potted” by a high school friend.
While I’m grieving at leaving family (and a new kitchen and bathroom and floors), moving 1400 miles away (though closer to my son), I’m redirecting my focus toward a new season, a new life. I see a plan unfolding that I never would have envisioned even four months ago. I’ll be settling into a new home–probably a ranch with a pool per doctor’s orders. I guess I can keep my 2015 word.
And in the decluttering of this home in preparation for moving, I’ve found several boxes of unopened Christmas cards…