Movin’ Out & Movin’ On
When your parents reach a certain age, it becomes clear that a role reversal has transpired. Rather than them calling to make sure you’re eating right, driving right or sleeping tight, it’s you making those calls to check on them. Never can a conflict arise faster than when a parent senses their little bird is trying to muscle their way back into the nest and set new rules for “their own good”. You may try to be diplomatic and respectful but one thing is clear-you are still the child and no amount of education, age or humor can change the fact that they once changed your diapers making it impossible for them to take you seriously…Especially when it comes to moving.
The generation gap became wider than ever when my dad sold the house I grew up in and decided to purchase a condo. Trying to pack up more than thirty years of memories into the back of a U-Haul (with help from his children) proved to be a more chaotic than expected. At one point I swore I heard him say he regretted teaching us to talk. In short, he was tired of our “help”.
The big move started with “purging the contents” or – as my family calls it- throwing all the trash out. With my dad standing vigil by the recycling bin, my sister and I attempted to toss old magazines, toys and clothes. With every item tossed my dad would pull two out to save. After a few minutes of bickering and explaining why a 1981 issue of Good Housekeeping has already served its purpose, he faltered and the purging continued.
When that first week of cleaning out ended the men at the city dump knew me by name and my four year old could drive to Goodwill by himself.
The second week of operation “movin’ out and movin’ on” arrived and this meant packing up and hauling out. On several occasions, my brothers and sisters got into a disagreement about how to properly stack boxes in the moving van. While we debated, dad tried to sneak some of the tossed items into his moving boxes.
As we made our way out of the house with the last of the moving boxes I was delegated to move the most valuable of all … my mother’s ashes. A group decision was made that her urn would not be safe jostling around in the U Haul so she was placed in the front seat of dad’s car. After voicing his concern over how secure she would be in the seat, I did what any loving daughter would do… I buckled her in. Dad wondered “outloud” if people would think we were crazy for moving mom’s ashes in such a way to which my sister replied, “If they wondered before this just confirms it”.
By the end of the last day of moving we were all laughing again. The trucks and cars were loaded down and the house was empty. I took a few snapshots of the now vacant rooms where I had my first sleepover, my little brother took his first steps and my mother took her last. When the front door of the house I grew up in closed for the last time I looked at my younger brother with tears welling up in my eyes and before I could utter a single word he said, “Tears aren’t going to get you out of helping us unload all this crap. Hurry up, I have somewhere to be”! With that, our convoy of moving vehicles pulled out of the driveway one last time and we prepared our dad for a fresh start and more memories in his new home where new memories are waiting to be made.
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