Monday, March 28, 2011

Leaving the Past Behind

My parents recently split up. It's shitty, it really is. My mom is not doing well - it's just a mess.

My sister and I are gently nudging her in the direction to sell the farm. She doesn't want to. I get it though.. I really do. As much as we would like her to start somewhere new.... without reminders of the painful last year... I 'get' why she doesn't want to sell her lovely, sprawling Ontario farmhouse. At least not just yet.

My daughter and I spent the weekend with my mom. I wanted to see if she needed anything done around the house, if she needed a shoulder to cry on, if she needed to vent, or all of the above. My first thought has been for her to move -- just get out of this place, it is too big for you on your own and contains too many painful memories.

But after I put my daughter to bed... and then grandma followed suit... I wandered through the house and looked at the pictures on the walls, I ran my hand over the woodwork and furniture, I leafed through books and peered into cupboard doors. And I got nostalgic and sad; we have so many memories in this place and it might very well be gone soon - and with it all those lovely memories of why we moved to this rambling farmhouse in the first place.

We moved when my sister and I were in our teen years; both were competitive equestriennes and the move to a bigger place with space to ride, train and build a small barn to house our show horses was the perfect excuse to leave small town living behind. My mom had admired this house for years; she could see the potential under the dull, grey siding, the unfinished rooms inside, the unused property out back. Once this place went on the market - we jumped at the opportunity.

Over the years, the house was transformed to mom's vision... and the barn was built to my specifications.

Once complete we enjoyed this place so thoroughly. We held family gatherings here; hosted neighborhood parties and apres-horse get togethers. It was a warm, friendly and inviting spot. But like anything in life, you eventually move on.

Fast forward years later; I have been busy transforming my own old farmhouse and building a family, opportunities and business - during these times you tend to forget the past because you are so busy planning the future. But I took time that Saturday night to remember the past. And at that moment I "get" why mom isn't in too much of a hurry to move. I get it now.

I had one last chance to savour cherished memories. Just before heading to bed myself... I started turning out all the lights downstairs. Once I got to the porch light, I stopped to admire the scene outside. That scene has always been one of my favourites. Our house is set on top of a hill and I always loved looking out over the moonlit paddocks, across the road to the neighbour's house and beyond. I stood there, motionless for what seemed an eternity, just staring at my favourite view and felt such deep regret that this all might soon be gone. It is easy to get bitter at times like this; you wonder, if dad hadn't left mom, they would still be living at the farmhouse without any impending need to sell; that I wouldn't worry so incessantly about mom living here on her own; and I wouldn't be mourning the potential sale of our cherished, once happy family home. Does life have to be like this; is this how memories end? I guess we all have a lot of healing to do; and perhaps mom's healing starts at the house she loved so much.

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