Saying Goodbye To A Childhood Home

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Home Kuel Category Expert: Lori Roach

In my wildest expectations, Detroit would not have been anywhere in the top ten of my first post-COVID travel picks.

And yet, here we were, my husband and I, boarding our first airplane in eighteen months, heading for the midwestern town where he grew up.

We Are The “Goodbye” Generation:

In a situation all too familiar to members of our generation, we were traveling to say our goodbyes to an aging family member. Mike’s mom would soon be moving into an assisted living facility. It was our first time to see her in two years, and quite possibly the last. Living two thousand miles away has its constraints. It was a trip we needed to take.

We found ourselves spending long but meaningful hours with Mom. Appreciating her lucid moments (dementia is a horrible, horrible disease), distracting her when she fixated on topics that upset her, and filling in the blanks when she was at a loss for the words she sought but couldn’t find. For the most part, she has maintained an enviable sense of humor.

“This is a home with history. Memories. Ghosts, even. You can’t help but feel Mom’s presence in every inch of space, every nook and cranny.”

This Home Is More Than Just A House:

Our time with Mom aside, we also found ourselves saying goodbye to her home. The home that welcomed her inside its walls as a young mother in the early 1960’s and is letting her go as a great-grandmother. Home where her husband died years ago. The home where my husband grew from a toddler to a young man. The home I’ve visited often, and even lived in for a few months when my own children were just babies.

This is a home with history. Memories. Ghosts, even. You can’t help but feel Mom’s presence in every inch of space, every nook and cranny. Here, her carefully curated collection of blue and white china. There, the Waterford crystal she loved so well and used once a year on Christmas day. Her books, her magazines, her sewing projects. Photos of the kids and grandkids. Every object has a story, a tale to tell.

Letting Go, But Holding Memories Close:

When Mom moves into assisted living, the clock begins its countdown. Based on the restrictions of the reverse mortgage she took out years ago, the house must be vacated and turned over to the bank within six months of her vacating the home. Even if Mom lives for a few more years, the house will no longer be hers.

Fifty years of furnishings, décor, collections, and memories must be removed, divided among sibling households, donated, sold. I urged my husband daily to look around carefully, as this was almost certainly his last visit to his childhood home. Did he want any of the contents to bring into ours? What was he most sentimental about? What had the most meaning for him?

Saying Goodbye:

And more than anything – was he consciously saying goodbye? Having moved thirteen times by my thirteenth birthday (military family here), I never had time to develop an attachment to any house I lived in as a child. But this place was like a living, breathing, sentient being. It had wrapped its arms around this family and this dear old woman especially. And now it was time to let it go.

As for myself, I asked for only memories. I will remember this home as whole, and not by its parts. And will cherish those memories, knowing that this was a place that sheltered a family I loved for half a century. A place filled with laughter and tears, arguments and reconciliations, joy and disappointment. A place inseparable in my mind from the devoted woman who raised her family within its walls.

A home, in every sense of the word. Goodbye, and thank you for everything.

Lori Roach’s professional career has encompassed convention management, corporate training, education administration, and – most important to her – full-time motherhood.  As she entered her mid-fifties, she found herself moving to a new city – leaving her friends and job behind just as she became an empty nester. Seeking both purpose and a new challenge, Lori started a blog, CircleSquareOval.  Her goal is to help every woman “shape a modern midlife” by focusing on self-discovery, confidence, and connection to the world around them.

 A bit of a gypsy at heart, Lori has relocated twenty-two times in her life, making her something of an expert on settling into a new space, unpacking and decorating quickly, and creating a feeling of “home”.  She joins Kuel Life as a Home Category Expert.

You can read more from Lori at CircleSquareOval and find her on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest as well.