I spent a lot of time on my vacation thinking about the family home that my parents will leave behind next year. I'm not sure why this has hit me so hard, but my heart actually hurts when I think that the home my father built (yes, he built himself) more than 50 years ago will no longer be our family home.
My parents married in 1952 and moved into the house (unfinished at is was) in 1955, the year my sister was born. My brother came along in 1957, and I arrived in 1965. I know that people say you can never go home, but I never feel much like I've been away when I return, and I haven't lived there since 1984.
On the last night of our vacation I sat in a chair under the shade of a mulberry tree and watched my son swim in the neighbor's pool. It's not the same pool I swam in as a child, but a newer version located in the very same spot. I looked fondly over the pile of boulders that served as my childhood fort, the rocks looking so much smaller and less imposing than I remember them. I marveled at the pine trees, both standing more than twice the height of the house. When my brother was young he jumped his horse (a pony really) over those very trees. Imagine what a feat that would be today! I remembered where the white birch and crab apple trees once stood, and found myself amazed at how large some of the replacements had grown in such a short time. I longed for the scent of lilacs, but they are out of season and the bushes gone as well. I found myself still missing the swing set that came down years ago. Give me a swing today and I'll still ride it, twist on it, and wonder how high I can go. So much has changed physically, but the memories are so strong it's hard to believe how much time has passed since they were made.
I thought about all these things and more on the drive back to Richmond, and realizing that getting teary while driving 70 mph was probably not a good thing, I decided to focus on the positive aspects of this move for my parents. In the end, I was struck by one fact that I'd overlooked, and it stopped me in my tracks. After 56 years of marriage, and with my Mom closing in on her 80's (next year) and Dad already into them, my parents are doing an incredibly brave thing. They are daring to write the next chapter in their lives, and I must give credit where credit is due. I'm not sure I'll be brave enough at 80 to attempt such a bold move. But then again, who knows? I've got some great role models to follow.