“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

3.11.2011

i will be moving into my mother's house



apparently.  caretaker/fixer upper/ tlc-er.  my brothers and i now own it, but my mother requested that, in the event of her passing, i live there with her cat until the event of the cat's passing.  yes.  my mother loved that cat that much.  you will meet her soon - that's her in the picture above, looking so much like maggie the cat, but so not.  her name is skye and she has her own story to tell. 

my mother bought this house less than a year after my father died, needing much less space, needing a change, perhaps needing some walls to paint.  she moved into it with a broken heart, and i will admit right here, now that she is gone and i feel it's okay to say aloud, that it has always felt like a broken heart to me.  she was full of fear and loneliness and barricaded herself with dark draperies and carpet and furniture and felt fine with her pepto bismol pink bathroom and the too-too-teal privy, and she surrounded the backyard with a tall wooden fence, and there are locks everywhere, and it always made me laugh, but it always made me a bit sad also.  by the time she began to feel better, happier, began to paint, changed the kitchen to apple green, she developed health problems and painting wasn't allowed anymore.  so the house stayed put.  half broken heart, half looking forward.

things will change.  my heart is broken, but i have no choice but to move forward.

i am filled with over-the-top anxiety about this move. even knowing i will make changes, changes that will make the house more joyful, changes that will fill it with light and air and art.  it feels too fast.  we are beginning a race against the clock to decide what to do with her things - what goes where? who gets this?  do we sell that? - while i also move my things in, decide what small changes i can make at first.  carpets will come up and i will live on the concrete until wood goes down.  those bathrooms will be white and will be expensive to change, but change they eventually will.  the walls will be painted.  i will have a studio.  a back porch.  i am terrified, and i have until the end of april to be there.  i am not sure it is where i want to be.  i am shaky while there, my belly unhappy.  i feel trapped and i want to run away. 

the ever-wonderful michael says i am still too close to the the event of my mother's death to see much past it right now, that it is still too new.  that the last month has been so awful it is clouding my view.  he is no doubt right.  but it is still her house, and i am not my mother.  she would be the first to tell me to make it mine, make it livable for me, to exorcise the ghosts of her sadness and fears, to open some windows.  and i will try - am, in fact, trying.  it is harder than i'd thought it would be when i told my mother yes, i would do this for her, back a couple of years ago, when i didn't know what lay ahead.  and i may change my mind, may decide i can't do it, may decide to take skye the cat and find another place.  one of my own choosing.  we may sell the house.  i will do the best i can do, and that is all i can do, and one day at a time is all i can manage.

this neighborhood is not charming, not enchanted like my neighborhood of now.  it is more suburbia, and i am afraid i will turn into someone else.  the people here live apart - instead of watching the street, i will watch the backyard.  but there will be plenty to keep me busy, walls to paint (always the best soul and heart easing therapy for me) and  i can grow tomatoes where my mother grew tomatoes.  i can plant flowers.  there will be fresh figs and turtles in the yard.  there are so many reasons it will be okay.

but. i am overwhelmed with these last few weeks.  i am more than overwhelmed by the idea of the next few.  so many more changes.  so many.  too manythey never stop.  but i am still here, and i will figure this out - somehow, someway.  i am scared but hopeful,  full of tears and ideas.  her house will be my dollhouse project.  there is a reason i could never build that january room.  life was waiting for me.

and now, i need you to tell me it will be okay.  :) 
my scared girl is showing,
but my softening girl doesn't care. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

39 comments:

  1. It will be okay. It really will. Because I believe that even though you can't feel it now, you have the strength to do what is right for you and Skye. She wanted both of you cared for. That's what Mom wanted. The house is walls and bricks and mortar and whatever the hell else goes into houses. You both need walls that wrap you in safety. You can paint love into those walls, and tenderness into the tile, you can do whatever you must do.
    This must be what was meant to be.
    We are here for you, praying and sending what strength we can.

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  2. Oh wow you took my breath away... My mom died in January and she lived in California with my dad who is doing great really - never expected that, but what a blessing. I have been to visit twice since and I feel such a need to clean and go through and organize everything. So odd what happens when we grieve. I brought back so many of her clothes and have been wearing them everyday. Another weird thing I didn't expect. All I can say is that yes it is going to be all right. And there is no road map how to do it. I can go a whole week and be great and then get slammed to the curb and I won't see it coming. Just try to ride the wave I guess and expect it to be different than you expect. I guess you need to decide whether to move and if you say yes then just take it one day at a time and realize you can make her place your place - I bet she would love that. And you can always fix it up and move in the future. It's hard that you have to decide so quickly, but that little bundle of fluff needs you too. Blessings I send you,
    Pam

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  3. you will be fine. the house will be yours. baby steps. the memories will be all around you and as the changes happen you will find comfort in those rememberings. I know. I live in my in-laws home now. A home that was thiers for forty years. A home that held many stories. Good and bad. many, too many, sad ones. But now it is my home with my husband and grandson. Our home is a happy and sun filled one. And it is OUR home...

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  4. It will be OK. OK. Not easy. Just take your feelings as they come and don't judge them. There is no guide book for losing your mother. And it's not only one day at a time, it's every day being different.Give yourself a break, no blame, just let it all out. OUT is the key, let the pain flow out. Let the fear fly away. Be you. Remember your art, your words.

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  5. Deb it will be OK ... my words aren't working tonight or I would have more BUT it will be OK.

    xoxo
    anna

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  6. such is the work of grief .. being overwhelmed and scared and hopeful and confused and needed by skye .. it will be okay because you will try and if it works it will be a home happy filled but if it does not feel right you can make other plans ....debi it will be OK .. sending you love from down the road

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  7. it will be okay. this will be hard and it will be a big change, a huge change, but it will be a change. and if it isn't the right change then there will be another and that will be okay, too.
    this will be your dollhouse project. i gasped when you said that. but then i thought how maybe that is just perfect. you will be changing and growing and building you dollhouse from life.
    a softer moving forward you. it will be okay.

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  8. Your loss is vast but what a gift your mother has given you. Your own home to do with what you will, to make it a happy place for you and your memories of her, and the cat...you wished for a cat and she made your wish come true. I'm sure the price must feel out of all proportion and you'd far rather just have your mother still here and well but this is an extraordinary turn to your story and yes...an extraordinary gift. Much love to you at this time.

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  9. One step, one step...that will be how you will do it.
    It will be what it will be -- that's how this works.
    But, you are not alone and yes,
    it will be O.K.

    This is about faith & trust & courage & silence & hope...yes, that hope thing...she sings in the soul -- so let her, it may be the voice of your mom.

    Kari

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  10. Hey Debi, we're all scared girls, but we're all brave girls, too. You can and should do what feels the best for you and in your own time. Deep breaths, sweetie, you'll be just fine.
    You are being held by so many other scared, brave girls and we are rooting for you, every day.

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  11. it will be ok, it will. everything takes its time. i'm sorry for your loss--but perhaps this is all meant to be for some strange reason.

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  12. I stopped by for a cookie, and... my Dad passed a few months back; I have the same moving scenario to work through. So, so many differences between neighborhoods and things. But they're just things. I do look forward to sitting in the gazebo!! My inner child will be so tickled. Then again I must find within my heart the thing that I want to do: move or stay put? I've decided there are no rules. If this is a blessing then I'll let it go. And with all my rambling I just want to say that I empathize; wishing you peace.
    Dixie

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  13. ...with the same anxiety you feel, in 2006, the opportunity (?) came to us to move from the house we built 40 years before, a house I loved and knew each corner of... to another house, one I loved equally, but one so very different and so much smaller. The house my husband was born in. An old farmhouse. The house people can only dream of. But I had to leave my security. The only house of our marriage I knew. I had 9 months to know we were moving. I ripped out old carpet, painted dark walls white, took down the heavy dark drapes and never replaced any curtains at all. The old bathroom and kitchen were remodeled to functional modern, but still made to look old to take the farmhouse back, before it was 'updated' in the 70's. Inspite of my anxiety, it all worked. I live in a house I never would have believed possible. Life changes. Dragging our feet sometimes trying to cling to our comfort, we must also change.
    You will paint walls, pull up carpet, take down the dark drapes. You will find purpose. And you will heal. I promise.
    in fond regard, Tilda

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  14. i've always believed, no matter the circumstances or if the welcome mat at the door frightens us, that change is good.

    change is expected. change is youth when everything feels old. change is growth and character building. change is anticipated. change is a cleansing of the soul. change is what we have to open our hands to and wrap our arms around when it's looking us in the eye.

    change is moving forward and is exactly what you'll do...and i think, no i believe it is exactly what you needed.

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  15. i don't know you well enough to say it's a good thing to move into your mum's house. we all have said we will do something for someone never really expecting that it will actually need or have to be done. but you are being the good daughter and keeping your word. i think you'll know if you can continue, it will be too hard or it will be okay and you'll know what you have to do next. i had to sell my dad's house the house he built with his own hands, the house he lived in for 40 years, the house i was born in, my parents were married there divorced there. it was hard sorting through everything and i did it way too quickly gave to goodwill things i wish i had now, take your time with that one. whatever you decide to do your mum would be okay with that, she knew you love her and that's enough at the end of the day.

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  16. Why life throws at us changes when we don't want them and it doesn't when we do? Everything it's gonna be alright, it always!
    Even though you are not feeling your best right now, you still inspire me! Thank you for the blessings that come thru you!
    Oh, and yeah, I'm sending a piece of my heart to you!

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  17. I completely shut down when my father died and the days, weeks, months that follwed his death were a blur. Grief can be so overwhelming as can change. Yet change can also be freeing and healing. You'll have good days and bad, just be sure to lean on friends and family and take the help where you can get it, you're not alone. Moving into your mom's house is huge, hopefully the changes you make will make it feel good and right, just don't try and rush it, let it happen over time. Just know we're all here to hold you up when you feel like you're falling. Big hug. x

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  18. Unlike Beth, I'm at a place where I don't think change is good. What you make of change can be good, bad, even exquisite, but change itself is just change. A given in life. Never-ending. Inconvenient, a blessing, a burden,the opening of the way. You have an opportunity to try this out or not. It's all about choice. And remember that minds can be changed if the choice doesn't feel right. Blessings! You will be okay.

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  19. You are in my prayer notebook and I will add this to the list there. You have Skye!! How wonderful - that is a good thing for you, I think. And growing tomatoes is part of the blessings of life - I love how their leaves smell while they grow.
    I know it feels strange, and awkward and difficult, and I am sure it is. There were no such associations for me when my mother passes, nor will there be when my father goes.
    I am holding you in my heart, and praying that all will be well. May He bless you and keep you and shine His face upon you, this day and always.

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  20. Oh my dear, it will be OK. Take one little step at a time and use as much time for each step as you need to. Be very gentle with yourself. Just breathe in and out, in and out, in and out. Holding you in my thoughts and lighting a candle too.

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  21. it is a gift of love and it is...

    movement

    i don't know towards what exactly...
    but it is indeed hand in hand with

    love

    i can't wait to see the tomatoes

    but most of all

    your studio:)

    love is an endless mystery

    xoxo

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  22. Well it seems to me you are doing the best you can.

    Your mother, would be thankful for that. No matter what lies ahead, do what is right for YOU. Mothers only want this for their children. Yours included.

    xoxo

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  23. You are going to be ok. And as overwhelming as it seems, you are already in it, and you are already moving through...one step at a time. You are figuring it out, and you haven't abandoned yourself as you try and work out what is going to be best for you.
    Your scared girl is doing just fine.

    What I wouldn't give to have a space to grow tomatoes!

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  24. Sending you SO much love and support. I can't begin to imagine what you are feeling, but you have been given a unique opportunity to breathe in that house until you can breathe deeply again. Talk to her and the cat and try to heal the broken hearted half of the house so that you can all emerge in April a little more healed.

    Wishing I could come over and help you somehow. Sending lots of love.

    xoox

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  25. Yes, it is scary, that is for sure. Through our scary we grow. We will walk side by side with you cheering you on and saying you go girl. There will be tears, but this dollhouse can become yours. If it doesn't you can walk away saying you did your best. Good for you! You will survive.

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  26. Debi, I've been away for a few days, just reading your post now and my response was "Wow!!" It seems like the things you have been dreaming of will be coming to you, just not quite the way you might have expected. I'm sorry it comes wrapped in so much sadness to begin with but trust that that too will change in time. Believe that the possibilities for the future will be many and happy ones. Just know that you can say no, that you don't want to have to live in this house if that is what you choose. There are no right or wrong answers. You and Skye can make a home somewhere else if your heart tells you that is the direction you need to travel, a home of your own choosing. You could also find Skye a home with another loving soul. Whatever works for you. I'm sure that would be the gift that your mother would most like to leave for you, the gift of being able to choose for yourself, without guilt or obligation, how and where you want to live your life. May you find peace in whatever choice you make.

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  27. Hello there. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I make a list...

    Things that need to be done...
    In order of priority...
    Big things...
    Little things...
    Maybe things...
    For sure things...
    Pros and cons of where to live...
    Delegate to your brothers...
    You each tackle a project and don't try to all do everything...
    Divide up the decisions and work...

    THEN, you tackle one "thing" at a time and mark it off. Another "thing", mark it off. Pretty soon, ALL things will be done, finished, figured out, solved.

    And above all, pray for answers to all your questions and know that your Mom loved you and your brothers and she would want whatever's easiest on you kids. She wouldn't want anything to burden you. Make it easy.

    Hugs ~~~ Vickie

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  28. I am sending you love and strength and the thoughts that it will be okay. It will. My dad had a stroke a few days ago; I've already lost him to dementia. Whatever happens in the hosptial over these next days or weeks...he won't be coming home. So, we are begining to deal with the house and all that he hoarded. We need to decide what to do with the cat. Oh, yes, it's overwhelming. I know. I know. But it will be okay, and we will get through these days somehow.

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  29. I am sending you love and strength and the thoughts that it will be okay. It will. My dad had a stroke a few days ago; I've already lost him to dementia. Whatever happens in the hosptial over these next days or weeks...he won't be coming home. So, we are begining to deal with the house and all that he hoarded. We need to decide what to do with the cat. Oh, yes, it's overwhelming. I know. I know. But it will be okay, and we will get through these days somehow.

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  30. I am sending you love and strength and the thoughts that it will be okay. It will. My dad had a stroke a few days ago; I've already lost him to dementia. Whatever happens in the hosptial over these next days or weeks...he won't be coming home. So, we are begining to deal with the house and all that he hoarded. We need to decide what to do with the cat. Oh, yes, it's overwhelming. I know. I know. But it will be okay, and we will get through these days somehow.

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  31. i am a beshert kind of person. beshert, meant to be. i truly believe that everything happens for a reason. perhaps you will find something in that house that will please you, it may only be that first tomato or the first soft aqua blue wall but you will be pleased. we are rooting for you and skye.

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  32. you see the twinship of it all, yes? it will be better than okay...it will be the best. i promise. if it isn't the best by July, I will come help you paint. now there's a guarantee.
    Linda E

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  33. Everyone has already voiced what I feel and think, but I will just say that it sounds like you are moving forward at the pace that's right for you, and letting yourself feel all the things you need to feel. Fresh figs and turtles and the promise of walls to paint and windows to open sounds really, really good. The rest sounds much harder, but if you keep taking it one day at a time, I have a feeling you will turn this into something magical. You can't help it; it's who you are and what you do. xo Gigi

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  34. again i've been away too long. i want to hug you and i'm not really the hugging type. : ) it will be ok - i know you will be ok.

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  35. such a beautiful post... i deeply admire you pouring out your heart for each of us to be washed in the difficult love that life is sometimes ♥

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  36. probably one of the most heartfelt posts i've read ever. many blessings will come your way i know.

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  37. That feeling of constant overwhelming is like a never ending tsunami, isn't it?
    My mother always told me to just put one foot in front of the other. Even if it means sobbing and crying and being anxious while doing so. I wish I could be as brave as my mother was.

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