Last night some of us from my Mom's side of the family met at Mom-Mom & Pop-Pop's house down the shore for Easter dinner. It was bittersweet, because Mom-Mom & Pop-Pop have decided to sell the house and move to a smaller ranch home in a retirement community nearby. So it was the last formal family dinner at the house they've owned for about 30 years, and lived in full-time for 20 years.
The house is huge, with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, long dining room and a really big rec-room they added on when I was a teenager. When we were younger, there would often be weekends where the house was full of aunts and uncles and cousins. And there was always good food contributed by all.
When I walk in that house I hear my aunts and I shouting and laughing over a game of Double Solitaire, which more often than not ended with my Aunt Dot triumphantly going "out" and winning. I smell all of the summer breakfasts of pancakes and scrapple and bacon that Mom-Mom cooked. I see Easter baskets for all the cousins covering the dining room table, and beach towels and bathing suits hung willy-nilly in the bathrooms after a long, sandy day at the beach. I feel love.
So much love.
It feels like home.
I thought they were being pressured by someone in the family to move "for their own good." I was also worried that they were moving because they didn't know about all of the resources they could take advantage of (often paid for by Medicare) such as a home aide and a stair lift. But after talking to them yesterday it seems apparent that it is their choice to downsize, that they would feel old and trapped by them rather than freed.
I'm going to try to go down there In June for one last long vacation down the shore, just me and the grandparents, and lots of beach time. And when it's time for them to move, I'll go help - but I'm not sure I'll be able to hold it together (just writing this I'm crying).
Maybe the next time I'm there, I can bring home some part of that house - some stones from the yard, or a piece of wicker furniture maybe? - so that I always have that piece of my shore "home" in my own home.