One week from today, we move out. There's more to the end of this chapter of this house, but I want to take a minute and step away from all that. There is another side to this story, this home, that I want to share because I am reminded of it daily.
Tonight, I spent a couple of hours putting photos into photo albums. They weren't my photos and they weren't my memories, but they were still touching and beautiful and sad. They spoke to the reason we moved in here in the first place.
Our homeowner moved in here with his wife 25 years ago. She loved horses, and rode often. She was a school teacher. She loved to ski, hike, and snorkel. She was stunningly beautiful, a redhead who aged well and by all appearances had a ton of good friends and lived life to the fullest. Our homeowner was obviously madly in love with her and she with him. I know all of this because the photos I put in an album were of her, taken from the poster boards that were created for her funeral because she died way too young from cancer. Those poster boards sat there for the last three years, and I came across them when I was cleaning and organizing the garage a couple of months ago. I have been terrified that these precious memories would be destroyed by careless movers, or by foraging animals, and so I put them up and away in a safe place, knowing that I needed to take care of them before we left here.
Their story has come to me in pieces. When we moved in and our homeowner mentioned that his wife had passed, this house, what had been left in it, what needed cleaned, told me a story of what a dark time it had been for him. The photos filled in bits and pieces of their relationship, and the life they lived here. I also found a painting in the garage of her riding, commissioned from a photograph I later realized was on one of the posters. It didn't seem right that such a beautiful work should be relegated to the garage, so I hung the painting in one of the bedrooms.
I think about her a lot. I wonder if she can see us and knows what's going on. I hope she's happy with the way we've kept her home. I hope she knows that despite my complaining and the drama that has ensued since we arrived, that this property has been wonderful to live on. I hope she knows that I really care about our homeowner, and I am truly and genuinely happy for him that this house sold.
It is a weirdly intimate experience, living in someone else's home, amongst their belongings. It's different from moving into a place that is empty, where the memories have been cleared out with the packed boxes. I have no right to this history, but I walk through it every day, and I can't help but think and ponder as I pack up someone else's stuff, label the boxes, and wrap the breakables in a way that I hope someone would pack my things if need be. This has been a stranger, more emotional time than I anticipated. I suspect it is fairly unique as far as caretaking goes, but I will only be able to compare in hindsight, after the next chapter concludes.
I don't have a good way to wind up these thoughts, so I'll leave it at this.
Goodnight, Patty, and thanks for letting us step into your world for these few minutes.