When House Full Becomes House Empty by Maureen Locher

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A month ago I walked into my parents’ home twice in one week and walked back out, I felt so sad. I couldn’t fathom any further dissembling of a lifetime of memories. It didn’t matter that I’d driven 45 minutes to get there; I couldn’t stay. The next week I began working in earnest upstairs conquering one room then the next, beginning with the biggest – my parents’ bedroom. My parents have these really cool cubby holes in their room, the contents of which haven’t been seen for years, possibly decades. Photos, treasures, memories layered upon memories. Doesn’t everybody need blue suede fringed chaps? My dad’s no cowboy. This isn’t the Wild West. Many questions pop into mind, “why” being the most prominent. The funniest part is that someone will actually buy them. Someone will buy everything. That’s what happens at an auction. House full becomes house empty in a matter of hours.

Most every day I unearth more buried treasure. It’s fun and I enjoy it. One of my brothers works in the barn while I work in the house. He shares my love of making such a difference each day as he separates oodles of car parts from thousands of records – 78’s, 45’s, 33 1/3’s, and so many books and old farm machinery and, and, and…! Our father is and always has been a packrat of the first degree. Batteries under hoods manufactured in the 1940s are charged up, flat tires inflated, new tires ordered. One can no longer walk into a Goodyear store and purchase a tire to fit a 1940 Cadillac.

Since our dad fell back in April and the dominoes began their decided descent, my priorities have aligned: Something needs done – I do it. Certainly my brothers must share this newly found philosophy with me as they are working so diligently to ensure that we are ready for both auctions. One auction just won’t handle all the stuff. So we’re having two – one for the house contents and one for the barn. We wake up each day and know where we must be and what we must be doing. Pretty simple. And very satisfying. I’m not wishy-washy in my thinking anymore. God emblazoned the answer to one of my most persistent questions onto an oft-prayed-for, if imaginary, billboard. Even I couldn’t mistake this one! Each day I follow God’s “to do” list.

Checking off the upstairs, I moved my campaign downstairs. Reaching far back into kitchen cupboards I traveled down memory lane. I spied the little egg cups into which my mom placed soft-boiled eggs whenever I was sick. My mom was a master at breaking off the tops of eggs, a trait I did not inherit. I can taste the dippy toast strips which fit perfectly into the opened eggs. My mom’s rolling pin and pie pans have been idle for far too long. How many apple pies did we eight enjoy in the course of our family’s life? I remember the oblong milk glass pedestal bowl overflowing with stuffed peppers. (The tomatoey sauce always overflowed onto the dinner table.) I almost forgot the cake pedestal which cradled the Dobosh Torte – the 18-layer cake my grandma taught my mom to make. The cake I’ve never baked yet. What am I waiting for?

Yesterday my optimistic mood took a turn for the worse. The house auction is in six days, no longer in the future, for the future has arrived. Six short days. In six days the general public will be tramping through my parents’ home touching their treasures, bidding on my memories, hijacking the whole kit and caboodle to their own homes at the last pound of the gavel. On certain items my fellow bidders won’t stand a chance; I WILL be the highest bidder. But so much will be carted away to parts unknown to adorn others’ homes and antique dealers’ walls. My parents are in their 90s; they are antiques themselves! So, like God, I may rest on the seventh day, and may actually exhale a huge sigh of relief. To onlookers I will appear perfectly fine, but when house full becomes house empty an irretrievable part of me will be forever lost.

Copyright 2010 Maureen Locher

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