Goodbye, My Childhood Home

 My dad, 84, is moving to a 2-bedroom condo after living in my childhood home of 52 years. The movers come tomorrow, pick up his packed belongings that have been living in his house, and deposit them in a space 10 times smaller than where they came from.

In my mind, I can walk through every inch of that home and know where every piece of furniture is placed, every picture is hung, every keepsake is stored,

In my childhood home.

My grandmother fell down a flight of stairs in front of me when I was 5. She had terminal cancer, and I fed and drew with her in her bed, in the bedroom off the porch. I watched that ambulance take her away from my childhood home.

My grandmother’s bedroom then became my room, then my one brother’s bedroom, then my little brother’s bedroom, and finally, a guest room. Rotating memories of furniture, clothes, pictures, conversations, and memories, in my childhood home.

The small bedroom on the second floor was the place where I changed my brother’s diapers, being 6 years older than him. I cut his nails, and changed his sheets when he was sick or had an accident. I was the one who finally took his favorite blankie away, because that was what was done back then. I read and sang to my little brother, until he fell peacefully asleep, with cute little smile face,

in my childhood home.

My sister Rachel and I shared a pink flowered room, first with bunk beds, then side by side. We shared secrets, laughs, fights, and long cold freezing nights looking out of frozen paned windows and moving the fan back and forth during humid Minneapolis summers. We lay away hoping the tree wouldn’t fly through our window during wind storms, in our childhood home.

My mother came into my room when I was 5, crying telling me my grandmother, Vivian, had died at the hospital,

in my childhood home.

My sister, only 19 shot herself in the basement, 8 months after I moved to Denmark with my fiancée, when I was only 22, changing the memories and future joy we would have,

In my childhood home.

My bother, the one I read and sang to, overdosed in his car, of the garage, at my childhood home.

My mother, in her 50s, fell down the basement stairs and broke her hip, so resiliently refusing to go to the ER, crawled to the couch and laid there all night until I came and took her to the ER the next day,

in my childhood home.

I watched my mother struggle to her last breath, with pancreatic cancer, in a hospital bed, next to the piano I played on since I was 2,

In my childhood home.

I was alone with her those final minutes when she said she was sorry she had not finished my childhood memory book she had started, and I said I would finish it for her,

About my childhood home.

As I turn 57, I continue my writing about my childhood home because it is not just my childhood home, it is all the memories of my grandmother Vivian, my sister Rachel, my brother Teddy, and my mother Susan, who lived and died, in my childhood home.

I will no longer be able to feel, smell, and touch the joyful memories that I have in my childhood home.

Grief has not gotten better since they died, on the contrary, it gets worse on some days, and it certainly gets different.

The memories have faded yet flash at times in more color, when I share them with my friends, patients, and anyone else that gives me the time to share, especially when they are struggling with their own grief.

It is so hard to explain all of this in a one-page poem, so I hope that when all of my already-written stories are shared one day, other siblings will find comfort in these words,

because I am so happy I was the granddaughter, sister, and daughter

in my childhood home.

I wouldn’t change the love I still have for them, because it is just that, love, and it does not get easier for me, it just grows into gratitude and inner strength that I use to help others find their way,

when they too, lose their childhood home.


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One response to “Goodbye, My Childhood Home”

  1. Carolyn Avatar
    Carolyn

    Memories cherished home both ground us or propel us forward

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