“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.
“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.