Since Cabbage's mother died almost four years ago, we've spent countless hours managing her house. She built the home and would have never wanted it to become a burden, but it definitely had become just that.
Initially, it was just a matter of locating paperwork, taking over the maintenance, and learning to juggle multiple properties. We leased it, listed it with realtors, and took good care of the house. Over the years we painted, landscaped, cleaned carpeting and rugs, installed things and spent many hours sorting, packing and removing personal belongings.
Hours spent there came directly out of our own homemaking time. The better that home looked, the worse ours did. Mow the lawn at that house? Ours was neglected. Scrub the floors and porches? Leave ours dirty. Spend a weekend painting? Our guest room will not be redone.
My mother-in-law would never have wanted it that way. Although she loved her home and carefully chose her furniture and artwork, she was not particularly concerned with material belongings. They were just things to her. We tried to keep her perspective every time we needed to make the house less personal or part with some of her things.
Finally, though, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We received a good offer to buy the house, and accepted it. Hallelujah. We notified our renter, passed inspection, and this weekend it was time to close the long chapter on her home.
Yesterday we moved furniture and artwork, southwestern pottery, took several loads to Goodwill. We also loaded- slowly and carefully- a potted cactus that's practically a family member. [surely one of you have a family plant- an aloe from a grandmother or a cutting from an aunt... right?]
(My mother-in-law died before we were married, and long before Beep was born. She won't remember this home, but we'll make sure she knows all about Nanny.)
Before we started this morning, it was time for one last breakfast at Nanny's house.
Then, Beep helped me clean. We scrubbed bathrooms, washed windows, checked for cobwebs, and mopped floors.
And I do mean we. Check out Cinderella.
Eventually Cabbage left to haul a load home and took the baby so she could nap in the truck.
I was alone in the house, cleaning and scrubbing like mad. Racing the clock, and subduing the memories. I loved Nanny and I spent a fair amount of time in that house with her.
I mopped the front hall where Nanny and I first met, and she hugged me and said "Oh, isn't she pretty?" to everyone else, thereby setting the tenor for my welcome into their family. I vacuumed the couch Nanny rested on and remembered how her bruised hand reached out to stroke Georgie's head. I wiped out the freezer I once stocked with homemade chicken soup, trying to tempt her failing appetite. I dusted the table we carved pumpkins at while Nanny convalesced a few feet away. Cleaning the baseboards in the bedroom, I remembered this was where we all- adults, kids, Georgie- piled in to watch a movie together in the darkness. I wiped the window, and on the other side was the back porch where we all ate a happy Fourth of July lunch.
I stopped and surveyed my work. Finally, every inch was spotless and shining.
Time to go. I wrote a note to the new owners.
The woman who built this house was called Nanny. She loved this house, and we hope you do too. Best wishes.