Archive | August 2012

Babies of the Family

I guess I really didn’t get what the big deal was about being the baby of the family until we had to send our own Baby of the Family off. Ever since I can remember and even after I grew taller than Mom, she always referred to me as “Her Baby” or “Our Baby” or “The Baby of the Family.” Mom liked saying all those phrases with a laugh after I grew to be taller than her.

My Mom's Baby of the Family

My Mom’s Baby of the Family

When I was very small I thought, “I am not a baby. I wish she would stop calling me that.” In my mind, I balled up my fists and stomped. In real life, I just took it and smiled because I sort of got a lot of attention from those phrases. I guess it bothered me enough though that I decided I wouldn’t call my youngest child “The Baby of the Family” or “Our Baby” or “My Baby,” until now because My Baby started his first day of college the other day.

My Baby and Me

My Baby and Me

A few days before we left to drop Matt off, Laura said, “Mom, why are you so worried? Matt is probably the most independent one in the family. He’s even more independent that you are.” It was true. I guess I was just worried about how I was going to handle moving the youngest one out of the nest, and I knew it would be a tough day for me. One would think that I would be used to sending kids off to college by now, but I’m not. That feeling of missing them when they’re gone doesn’t go away.

The Babies All Together!

Our Babies All Together!

Since Mike and I helped Matt move in on a Saturday, and because it’s such a long drive home, Mike announced that we should really get a move on early Sunday morning. I agreed and realized then that my hug with Matt the Saturday night before was my good-bye hug. As we drove away from town and kept getting farther away from My Baby, I couldn’t help but sniffle. Memories of favorite days spent with Matt when he was just a little kid started to pop into my mind.

Matt and I used to like to hang out by the bridge by our house. Back then, I decided I would sit and watch as long as Matt wanted me to no matter how long it took, and I always was ready to sit on the bridge even if we had just done that same thing the day before. The trees towered high over the water, and it was like we had our own little fort just for us. Matt searched for handfuls of rocks on the side of the creek, and he threw rock after rock into the water just to see how far away it would land and what kind of splash it would make. We would comment on which were the “good ones” by how big the splash was. I knew that the next year when Matt would be in kindergarten that he probably wouldn’t want to throw rocks in the creek with his Mom just to see what kind of splash they make, and I was right.

Plus Our Baby was the last one of our kids that Dad and I got to share and teach childhood things to. You know, some things like how to:

• tie shoes;
• ride a bike;
• put on and tie skates;
• roller skate and ice skate;
• float and swim;
• hold hands while crossing the street or just because it felt nice and secure;
• remain calm during thunderstorms by giving hugs;
• listen to bedtime stories; and
• say bedtime prayers.

After we got home, I wrote out a grocery list for the coming week. I tried to stop those sniffles from coming back as I realized I wouldn’t have to buy Gatorade, frozen pizzas and Oreos for a little while. I wandered up to see the state of Matt’s bedroom with vacuum cleaner in hand. His room looked pretty bare and as if he took almost all of his possessions with him. I briefly noticed a white, plastic Target bag on his bookshelf and thought it must be some sort of trash, but when I got a text from Matt later that day, he said that there was a bag on his bookshelf, and that it was a present for me and Dad.

I retrieved the bag, searched for Dad, and we opened it together. A card was on top, and the first sentence started by saying, “Thanks for all your love and support.” More tears had to be wiped away as I realized Babies of the Family do grow up. My Mom’s endearing phrase stuck with me that day, and I finally figured out that it’s not so bad being called the Baby of the Family after all.

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The Closing

Old World Charm

“Your parents must have been very meticulous people,” she said as she looked down to inspect her neatly polished nails. The color of her nails matched the pink of her blouse. Seeing all this cleanliness and watching her bracelets bangle about made me wonder if she would keep up the garden.

“Yes, they were,” I said. What I pictured her to look like was very different from what I saw sitting across from me on the other side of the table. I remembered how the realtor said that she called him right away after the sign went up in the yard. She went to the first open house three times. First she visited by herself, and then she escorted different people around two other times. She called the realtor the following Tuesday to have a look again, went to the second open house with more visitors, and during the inspection, the realtor wondered if the report that the air conditioning wasn’t working properly was just a ruse for her to go show off the house again. I pictured her to be some sort of a neurotic person with all this fuss, but during the closing she was calm, happy and looked to be excited to move into her new home.

View from the Back Yard

“They were very neat, and managed to keep every piece of paper,” I said. This caused a chuckle amongst the group. Now that I had made it through the signing of the papers without getting emotional, I wanted to keep it that way. I opened up a packet of warranties and manuals that I had dug out of a box earlier that morning.

“. . . that you now have and are cleaning up,” our realtor finished my thought. I nodded in agreement, and leafed through the packet and explained some of the papers.

“How long did your Mom live there?” Mr. New Owner asked.

“60 years?” I said as I turned to look at my brother.

“Since 1950,” he said.

“That’s 62 years,” the other realtor said.

“Do you know how many people lived in the house before your parents lived there?” Mr. New Owner asked.

“Our Grandpa owned the house since the beginning, since 1927, and rented it out to a couple of families before our Mom and Dad bought it,” said my brother.

“That’s amazing,” said Mr. New Owner.

“Are those cupboards in the garage and in the basement the original kitchen cupboards?” Mrs. New Owner asked.

“Yes,” I said. For a minute I felt like she knew the house better than I did.

Mr. and Mrs. talked about how their children and siblings live close by and how the new lady of the house had been looking for a home on the south side of town, but then ended up on the north side. I wondered if she fell in love with the house right away. I remembered back to the time when I found the house where my family lives now. I knew it was going to be our house the minute I stepped inside.

I imagined that first time she walked into the first open house and saw the beautiful dark woodwork and the gorgeous chandelier in the living room that she fell for what our realtor called “Old World Charm.” Some things had been updated and remodeled over the years, but the house definitely has kept its Old World Charm.

As we turned over the keys to the outside doors and the many skeleton keys to the original doors inside the house, we admitted that we didn’t know which skeleton keys belonged to which doors. We also gave them the key to those old radiators that sometimes creak when the heat comes on.

I shook the hand of Mr. New Owner, and told him that I hoped they would be very happy there.

As my brother and I walked back to the car, I was sad but I also felt relieved. I knew I would miss our house since I knew it my entire life and we had so much family history there, but I was relieved that we didn’t have to worry about it any longer. We didn’t have to worry that it was just sitting there empty and all by itself. We didn’t have to worry that someone might vandalize it. We didn’t have to worry about the weeds that grew three feet from one Saturday to the next. We didn’t have to worry about making sure the bills got paid on a house where no one lived. I also knew that I didn’t have to worry about the new owners keeping up the house because they seemed to be very nice and meticulous people, just like the folks who used to live there.

Dad, Mom & Me