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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

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Cemetery Thieves Cause Emotional Rollercoaster Ride


courtesy of kimberkraft

As I looked to make sure that the words were spelled correctly, and that the dates were right, I started to feel that I needed to get some flowers. I hadn’t thought about getting flowers when we first arrived, but since it was Mother’s Day, it was the right thing to do.  Luckily there’s a flower shop close by. While we waited for the lady to put together a bouquet, my husband and I walked around the store. I had never been there before though I had driven by many times.

“Do you have any water?” the little man with gray hair asked me.

“No,” I said.  He must have noticed that I looked lost.

“The water isn’t on in the cemetery yet. I can get you a pop can filled with water.”

“Thank you.” It was a weird feeling, being at the cemetery without my mother. My mother and father always made sure that we paid our respects and visited the cemetery every Memorial weekend. It was a family outing, the kids going with Mom and Dad and even way back, with my Grandpa and Aunt. Mom used to bring peonies from her garden for my Grandma’s grave.

After my Dad passed away, my children and I went with Mom to make sure that the gravestones were swept off and that there weren’t any mysterious critters lurking about or grass growing where it shouldn’t. I cleaned off my Grandma’s grave most of the times because she was the one I never got to meet. Like I used to do when I was small, my kids read the dates on the gravestones trying to see which were the oldest.  Plus we made sure that no one ever stepped on the markers.

Mike and I went back to Mom’s gravestone. I unscrewed the bronze vase, poured in the water from the pop can, and placed the bouquet of flowers inside. Mom would have loved the sweetheart roses.  I know it would be important to Mom to have flowers placed on her grave and being remembered in a respectful way since it was always something she did during her lifetime.

The next week, I had to go back to the cemetery to make sure that the vase was put back the way it should be. Even though I called the cemetery and they assured me that the workers put the vases back, I just wanted to be sure.  Plus, I had a funny feeling.  When we pulled up to the familiar spot, I saw that someone had thrown the dried up bouquet on the side of Mom’s grave, and the bronze vase was gone. We looked around and saw that many other vases were gone. The grave markers looked so bare because there were holes where a vase had once been. I looked around and saw all the empty spots, and it made me so sad. A place where most people come to pay their respects had been tragically dishonored.

When we got back into our car, I told my husband that I felt violated.  I tried to imagine what type of person would steal from a cemetery.  That sad feeling stuck with me for days even though I tried to push it away.

On Thursday, when I came downstairs for breakfast, my husband told me that there was an article in the newspaper about how lots of vases had been stolen from gravesites from three different cemeteries on the north side.

“Did you bring that paper home from work yesterday?” I asked. We only get the paper delivered to our house on Sundays.

“No,” he said. “The paper was out on the steps this morning. This is today’s paper.”

“Isn’t that weird?” I kept asking over and over again.

“Your Mom wanted you to see what was going on,” Mike said.

If you want to read the article, click here.

On Friday morning when our clock radio alarm went off, the first news story we heard was that the vases had been found in a park.  I hope all the media attention scared the thieves off forever.  The vases are being inspected by the police for any signs of evidence, and then will be returned to the cemeteries.  You can read about it here.

I was very happy to hear that the vases were found and will be returned.

I wasn’t planning on going to the cemetery this weekend, since I was just there twice, but since it’s Memorial Day, it’s the right thing to do.