I am one of the lucky ones. My parents still live in the house that I grew up in. These days, I know that’s a fairly unusual thing. People tend to move from place to place, city to city, state to state. I have certainly done that multiple times. But I’ve always had that safety net, knowing that my childhood home was still there for me to visit anytime I wanted to. I’ve watched friends’ parents move, relatives move on – and sadly, pass on – from homes where I spent a great deal of my childhood, with the circle of familiar places growing smaller all the time. And, while both the interior and exterior of our home has changed over the years, the touchstone has not only been the physical house, but the home and neighborhood that evoke so many memories. Every time I come home to visit, I walk through the familiar streets, the memories of childhood friends encircling me at every turn. I walk several blocks to the shopping center which has also evolved over the years, yet is still so comfortable and familiar. My children grew up visiting this house at least once a year, making their own memories,adding to the stories that make up the fabric of our family.
And now, my parents are moving on. They are moving to a place that will provide them a wonderful new life, filled with new friends and activities and security that my sister and I are grateful for. As members of the sandwich generation, we are thrilled that our parents will no longer have to battle the elements during every harsh winter, worrying that they will be snowed in or worse, that they will attempt to shovel their way out of the house during the frequent snowstorms that are a given throughout New York winters. It gives us great relief to know that they will be even more active, with access to movies, theater, numerous activities, exercise classes and more, making life more pleasurable than before. And, to be honest, with neither of us living nearby, it is really a mindsaver to know that they will now be in a place that offers all kinds of assistance, should they ever need it.
So, I find myself with mixed feelings about this saying goodbye, because I know that most likely, I won’t ever go back home again. Once my parents are settled in their new home, there won’t be any reason to go to the old neighborhood when we come to visit. Because everyone else I knew there has moved on. Although I was there twice this summer, I didn’t realize that the house would sell as quickly as it did (a very good thing, but in this market, extremely surprising!). As with so many things in life, I thought I would have time to adjust, to say my goodbyes.
I am so happy for my parents and the new life that awaits them. And I am exceedingly grateful that this move is a happy move, precipitated by them wanting to be part of all the things that are offered in what will soon be their new home. But it is the closing of a very long chapter in our lives, and I am aware it’s time to turn the page. To start a new book, with new chapters and new memories ahead – and I know how lucky I am to have the chance to be part of the ever-changing story of my family.
Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved