Thursday, July 26, 2012

Moving on

As any autism parent can tell you, change is hard. Our kids have a hard time transitioning or doing something outside of the routine. I’m here to tell you that change is also hard for everyone else, too.

This past weekend I worked my tail off to help prepare my grandma’s house for sale. It’s been a long time coming. Grandma fell and injured herself a couple of years ago. After a stint in a rehab facility, it became clear that it was no longer a good idea for her to live by herself.  

My grandma is almost 95 and she is healthy as a horse. She is also stubborn as a mule! By God’s grace, she still has her wits about her. I can only hope and pray that I will be the same way when I am her age…if I ever get there!
Since she moved in with my aunt about 2 years ago her house has been sitting vacant. Recently she decided she was finally willing to let the house go. I imagine it was very difficult for her because there are a lot of memories there. Out of all the grandkids, I think I spent the most time there and it was like my second home when I was growing up.

Going through all of her things was exhausting. Like many people her age, she was hesitant to throw anything away that could be useful, and she surrounded herself with knickknacks and pictures. Every so often I would stop and reminisce as something jogged my memory. My cousin and I would exclaim to each other, “Do you remember this? Wow!” We would shake our heads in disbelief as we walked down memory lane. It was really cool to uncover things we had long forgotten about or never even knew existed.
The one thing that made the weekend easier was the fact that grandma is still with us. Had we been going through her things after her passing, it would have been much more difficult. I was grateful for the opportunity to clean and organize her house without grief. It was also very enjoyable to gather together a few family members and friends of the family that are scattered around and work toward a common goal.  

Since it was a sunny weekend, the house was warm and it was really stuffy from being unoccupied for so long. We opened up all the windows and doors, cranked up the music, and got our groove on well into the night. All of the neighbors must have loved our shake-your-booty-and-sing-your-heart-out renditions of songs by the Village People, Milli Vanilli, the Bangles, and others. Poor neighbors. They are probably traumatized for life. Over 2 nights, I think we got about 5 hours of sleep total. By the end, we were hobbling around covered in dust and grime and completely sore and tired.
Gram's house is the epitome of 70's chic! Don't you love the green shag and orange furniture? You should have seen this room before we stripped it clean. We removed a couple of pieces of furniture, all the pictures off the wall, the tons of dried and silk flowers, and the knickknacks from every corner and surface. By paring down the room, it's the largest we've ever seen it. Who knew there was this much space? 

My cousin, uncle and I were feeling emotional over certain things we came across and things we remembered, but we did our best to hold our emotions in check. I think we all knew that if we allowed the floodgates to open they just would not stop. I somehow managed to hold myself together while I was in the house.  

On my way back home, I crossed the bridge over the river from Portland into Vancouver and that’s when I lost it. I was a wreck off and on for the rest of that night and the next day. Lord help me when the house actually sells. She’s the only grandparent left between my husband and I, and I don’t even want to think about when she goes to be with the rest of our grandparents in heaven.   
One moment that really sticks out in my mind from that weekend is when I stopped by the neighbor’s house to chat. As it turns out, they also have 2 boys diagnosed on the autism spectrum. I found myself in their living room chatting with them about autism, educational advocacy, and other related topics. Even though my hubby was home with our boys, it was like I was right back in my element.  

Once my grandma’s house sells, I will no longer have relatives in my old hometown. But, I will have community. I will have autism family. And that makes the change a little bit easier.


mamaporuski said...

So have memories of childhood in rooms just like that one! I always liked shag in green, made me feel we had grass inside :).
Sorry about grandma, glad she was able to let go while everyone was able to take the time and enjoy the memories.
Welcome home!

Cari from Bubble Gum on my Shoe said...

That is tough. I remember when we had to do that for my grandparents. The emotional walk down memory lane can be so fun, but it can wear you out. Those memories shaped us, our childhood. Makes me think what my kids will remember. By the way, that color palette is totally back in! All comes full circle;)

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