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MOVING IS A MESSY BUSINESS Kate’s Journal


We are moving. First a possibility, then a probability, now a fact. We are leaving this house which has sheltered us for over forty years to be closer to the bosom of our family, and that is an exciting consideration. We will learn to know the newest crop of great-grandchildren as we knew their parents, which distance prevents now.

After all these years we are unused to the process of selling a house. When the sign goes up in front of your house, complete strangers drive by and ask the price. Then realtors from all over town come to look at it while you spend your time away from home allowing them to look at your stuff without being able to let them know how much time, money and love you have put into making this house a home. Most of all, Charlie must be removed along with you because he doesn’t understand what’s going on, and let’s everyone know it.

The people who come to see what is inside can’t imagine the children who played here or the parade of dogs during all that time who have protected us from all intruders. The essence of joyous holidays and parties still permeate the walls, and the friends who have come and gone through the years have left their mark as well. There are still people who say they remember a special occasion party or two. The kitchen and that 45 year old stove were well worked over until even it had to be replaced a year or two ago.

I wonder who will find this house irresistible. Will they love it as we do, watching each tree blossom in the garden, and wait impatiently for each of the fruit trees to yield their bounty? Will they completely replant all the beds with another style? Will they love all the small hidden areas in the large garden? I caution myself to avoid this sort of thinking, because when we moved here so long ago, we changed everything about both house and garden.

It’s hard to remember just what it looked like then as we began to make our mark. Trees were removed and others replanted, lawn disappeared and brick replaced it, each brick lovingly placed by Dr. A. Tons of tomatoes and zucchini came and went through the years. A very large pool and fountain came where grandchildren learned to swim and paddle, and I cooled off on hot summer days. When an earthquake cracked it once too often it was removed and things were redesigned once more.

Will new children play in the small garden house built by our brother-in-law to resemble a house in Carmel? I will miss the hours spent painting the whimsical creatures inside; will they miss me? I will miss taking my morning coffee there while I contemplate a new painting, or having an afternoon tea with Dr. A talking over the day.

Will my painting studio miss me when someone else perhaps uses it as another bedroom? The hours and years I have spent in this crowded and cluttered environment were beyond special. The room was first used by us as a sewing room, with built-in Dutch beds for grandchildren with large toy boxes beneath them. At that time I painted in another room and when we found that grandchildren slept where they wanted to, I moved my stuff in and it became my exclusive domain.

When we built the large “family” room, we bought roller skates for the kids and used it as a skating rink before laying the hand made tiles. Our granddaughter, who visited from London the other day was too young to remember that, but she wandered around remembering all sorts of other things about this house. She quickly checked our her hand print in the cement of the storage shed, then claimed a small needlepoint hanging on the wall of the little house. You never know what children see and love. Our 42 year old grandson referred to our belongings as “our childhood memories.”

There are quite a few of those childhood memories of both Dr. A and me which will need to travel with us. They are the ragged remnants of our roots and our memory.

Times have reached the point when family goes around choosing what they might like to own someday when we are through with it. Moving into another home which is a little smaller means than some belongings will not make the cut. We are told to “take it all” and decide later, and I guess that is the simple way. Taking stock of what we own after seventy years is rather awesome, and unsurprisingly includes perhaps a thousand books, a great many of which are too well-loved to discard.

I am amused by friends who ask in incredulous voices “Do you WANT to move?” No move is made without great contemplation, weighing the pluses and the minuses. In our case the plus side greatly overweighs the minus. It is the process which is bewildering. We are so lucky to have the help of our two daughters who are managing our move long-distance. Both women are in real estate and both have sold their own homes and moved after years of living in one place. Our new home will await us when this house is claimed by its new owner.

It will be fun to write about our new house as we work to make it our home.

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19 comments on “MOVING IS A MESSY BUSINESS Kate’s Journal

  1. Maybe it’s just too much maybe you should stay put

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  2. Dear Aunt Kayti, This is one of the most beautiful posts you have ever written. In it, are all the emotions that swirl when one is confronted with moving. It is the right time for you both to move and be closer to Jan and family. What I admire about you so much is your willingness to embrace the life experience.

    You are a warrior in every way.

    The words you wrote and the thoughts you expressed are what all of us would feel after being in a house for so long. And yet? Staying exposes you both to the sudden vicissitudes of life, those which need immediate family attention. All of us who love and Dr. A will feel better when you are closer to your daughter and family. That’s what we had Joanie do and she was as brave as you.

    I’ll call you when I return to California and check in.

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  3. When my mum moved away from the family home, after my dad died, to be closer to both my elder brother and me it was an event of mixed emotions. I knew it was the right thing to do for her sake but part of me felt that an anchor was being pulled up and I was afraid my ship would drift. Perhaps apron strings are never cut but just fray over the years. Little by little we realise that memories live in our hearts and not in bricks and mortar. Good luck in your new home, I look forward to hearing all about it. x

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  4. Forty years is a long time to live in one place. We moved twice in 2013 and I can tell you it’s a blessed relief to have that behind us. It seems that aging is accompanied by many losses, but I think you have the right attitude to come through with flying colours.

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  5. I love this post, Kayti. These lines esp are poignant, “… allowing them to look at your stuff without being able to let them know how much time, money and love you have put into making this house a home” and “You never know what children see and love”. Very true. Here’s to new life. x

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  6. Great post. The emotional joy and pain of moving from the familiar to the new is something that is not easy. There will be difficult times for both of you. Charley will probably be unsettled and look for comfort if not an extra treat. Memories are made of dreams that float in our pasts, children’s voices still linger and echo around forever. The flowers in vases, the weeds between the bricks, they all made our lives. Wishing you all the best in your new home from G and H.

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    • Only those who have done it can understand, and I know you both have done so. I found a snippet of paper lying on the table the other day which I had jotted down to use somewhere: “With change brings opportunity”. Dr. A will find a whole new group of “patients” (or “patience”. and that will be good. I will still be scribbling and baking cookies for new grandkids. Thanks Gerard and Helvi. (And Milo too)

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  7. Moving is such a tumultuous time. You’ve beautifully described the feelings that swirl, and the complexities of the decision-making process. You’re lucky to have family to move nearer to, and to help out with the process.

    If I have any advice, it’s to not “take it all, and decide later.” I’ve never seen — or experienced! — that as being easier. To the extent that time and energy allow, doing some of the sorting first is a good move. I believe that so firmly that I’ve already begun the culling process for a move that may well be a decade or more down the road. When the time comes, I want to be ready, and to make the process as simple as possible.

    But the new pleasures that await are considerable. How wonderful that you’ll be close to your great-grandchildren. That’s an experience that many, many people never will have — how lucky you are!

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    • We really ARE lucky Linda aren’t we? This short period of unrest while getting to the finish line is something we haven’t experienced for many years. People tend to like their own lifestyle and when it gets disrupted it is discombobulating.
      It makes it hard to know what to take because we have bought a house sight unseen! Just the pictures and floorplan. We are so lucky to have a real estate daughter down there. I’m glad I rely on her advice in that respect.

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  8. Your post was similar to mine, https://valschallenge.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2522&action=edit&postpost=v2, but we are not as advanced as you are in your plans. It will come, but everything you said made me sadder about leaving our own home in the next few years. There are memories attached to everything in the yard and in the house, even though it’s changed over the years. We certainly have a ton of photos that attest to the fact that it was a great family home, and all our kids loved it. Things change, though, and resilience is necessary. Past is prologue.

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    • It’s always a challenge to pull up stakes and move out of your element. We get lost in our memories and forget that there are still lots of memories to be made. I love your statement “Past is prologue.” Quite profound. It sounds a bit like something T.S. Eliot would have said.

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  9. You are not selling a house, you are selling a home you created and filled with memories, and you will do the same with your new house. Good luck with all the pesky details of the transition.

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    • Thank you Aunt Beulah. After over forty years you collect a lot, including memories and stuff. “Stuff” you don’t need, and the memories will remain. It will be fun finding a new place to put our stuff and make new memories.

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    • We have had a big change of plans over weekend; we are not selling. It became so hectic and we decided we are really not ready to take something else on yet. To celebrate the decision, the rain finally came overnight! I wondered what all that wet stuff was when I got up. The garden is smiling.

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      • Wow, you must be relieved, really. Packing up all those books, stripping down your wonderful studio, and leaving all those memories behind!

        I shall have to return and start at Episode 1 of your 1966 adventures, Kayti. I trust you and yours will have an excellent 2016.

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