SAYING GOODBYE TO THIS OLD HOUSE
And Finding Ways to Always Remember
By Katie WellsShare this article:
My grandmother, Mimi, passed away this Spring and with her death came the tying up of loose ends that accompany the end of a life: a house to be dealt with, papers to be sorted, and a life's collection of things to go through.
After Mimi passed away, her children and grandchildren gathered at her house to go through the house and divvy up furniture and belongings. I learned that death is swift. So fast, in fact, the permanency of it is hard to accept when you can pick up an object the deceased held the day before. You can touch the bed your loved one laid in hours earlier or read the book by their beside. Now, within just a few short days, everything had changed. This house would be sold soon.
Suddenly, Mimi's things were being carted through her front door and loaded into cars and vans like one might load up a great find at a yard sale. As we divided the pieces of the house puzzle, the picture didn't look the same. As I walked through the house, I recall a family member saying, “You can't take it with you.” No, you can't but it still strikes me as odd that these things have outlived their owner.
My grandmother is in every inch of that house. I remember when she re-decorated the house in the ’90s. She was so proud of her floral bathroom, the plaid couch, and the new kitchen floor. Holidays, birthdays, and special occasions were spent around her dinner table, laughing and telling stories or “lies” as my Dad and uncle would joke.
I learned how to play basketball at the hoop attached to the garage. I played baseball with the neighborhood kids in the front yard with the four trees that form an odd-shaped diamond. I remember days spent swimming in the neighbor’s pool and nights spent catching lightning bugs in the yard. It’s hard to imagine never coming back to this place.
As we packed away Mimi's belongings into our separate cars, I noticed the Irises were in bloom. Mimi planted those flowers many years ago. She was an excellent gardener, but probably hadn't tended to the plants in years, being sick and unable. They were tall, deep purple and fragrant. Suddenly, I knew, I would take Mimi with me wherever I go.
This house may be hard to say “goodbye” to, but Mimi isn't the house and she isn't her things. She’s the lessons she taught me, the love that she gave me and person I strive to be — a good friend, family member, wife, daughter, and sister. Strangely, I feel closer to Mimi now than I did during her last few years on Earth. It comforts me to know that the “things” of hers in my life will serve as a constant reminder of her legacy, and I can always carry her spirit in my heart. The house may be gone, but I know for sure that every time I see an Iris, I will think of Mimi.
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