My mother's house was sold this past week. Okay, it's been in the process of being sold for a few months, but the closing happened on Tuesday. That's where the sellers and the buyers sit down and sign papers and more papers and have one last chance to run screaming for the door. Because this little sit-down is all about hundreds of thousands of dollars. The money that is about to change hands will change lives.
This is why the idea of "dabbling in real estate" does not sit well with me. We are talking about what is an essential right of all human beings: the right to shelter. We were in the midst of moving a home from one family to another, and the magic that surrounds all of this should not be lost in the decimal points. The home in question is the one in which my mother lived for twenty-six years. It was the place where we gathered for countless reunions and barbecues. It is where she spent her golden years. Now, that home will become a place for a family that is just starting out to find their footing in the firmament.
This is not the house in which I grew up. That one has turned over a couple times since my mother moved out. That place was a golden years stop, ironically, for a friend of my mother-in-law. When that friend and her husband left this world, the house and the big blue spruce in the back yard was sold to someone new. I don't know who they are.
But I hope they are really living in that house. Heaven knows I did while I was there.
I do not think there is a price tag that could adequately be attached to the memories we have stored in these buildings. Instead, we account for the additions and repairs that have occurred over the years. Upkeep is important when you want to leave your home and trade it for a new one. Be careful not to use it up before you go. For instance, I know that the two holes I left in my childhood home had to be reckoned with before it was sold. Covering up the hole I put in the closet door downstairs and doing a professional job on the drywall where I kicked through the drywall in my parents' bedroom can't obscure the reality of the moments in which they occurred.
I saw pictures of my mother's house when it was professionally staged for sale. It looked so very different. The books on the shelves were missing. The pantry was cleaned of all the raisins my mother had stored up for some raisin-related emergency. It was a blank slate upon which the story of a mother and father of a two year old could begin scribbling their own story.
I wish them all the laughter and tears and adventures and quiet moments they can gather there. I wish them a home.
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