Monday, April 27, 2009

The last time

There was something about turning the key in that deadbolt lock that really got to me.
Yesterday, my brother and I finished the last of the cleaning out of our parents' home in a small, rural upstate New York town.
We vacuumed, dusted and emptied the last closet of a World War II Army uniform, some old Girl Scout hats and uniforms, and other odds and ends.
It's been a walk through our childhood and growing up, through high school and leaving for college and coming back to get married and work and grow into our own middle age.
We are both weary. It's been years of begging our parents to consider leaving their home for a safer, more comfortable life in an assisted living community where we'll worry less about them and her frequent falls from Parkinson's Disease can likely be prevented a little more often.
Where he can have his pacemaker, installed last fall, more closely monitored and can be free of some of the day-to-day chores of caring for my mother, who is failing by inches and frequently confused.
As we pored through photographs, aging albums and stacks of saved newspaper clippings, our lives seemed to whiz by.
For 61 years they lived in this tiny little house that we often cursed for being too small, too crowded, too confining.
The day they left, we practically carried her out, sobbing, saying she never thought she'd live to see the day when she walked away from the only real home she'd known for her entire adult life.
We thought we'd be relieved to lock the door, sell it, and move on.
And we are.
But, still...