I've been in a melancholy mood today. My mother and father are moving today from the home they have had since 1967 on Trexler Avenue in Rockwell, NC. They have made a decision to move to Aldersgate, a Methodist retirement center in Charlotte. They are getting along in age and although still healthy, they are thinking about the future. There are many reasons why this is the right thing to do. And, I have no doubt about that. In fact, their house sold in 1 week without even having to list it with a realtor! And that was in this current real estate market! It is the right thing for them. They will have a very nice apartment and when they need it, they can transition to a room in the nursing home. Furthermore, it is probably the last really big gift my parents can give to me and my sister (who lives in Charlotte). We will not have to be faced with the terrible question of "what do we do with daddy?" or "what do we do with mama?" So, this definitely is the right thing to do.
Still, I am sad today. For 41 years that little house on Trexler Avenue was my "home." There have been 41 Christmas gatherings there. From sleepy Christmas mornings that suddenly became magical when we realized that Santa had visited, to Christmases of recent years when "mom" and "dad" have become "maw-maw" and "paw-paw." I brought my first high school sweetheart over to that house to meet my parents. I brought friends from college home for weekend visits to that house. I brought my wife Pam to that house 20 years ago all the way from Texas to announce that we were getting married. Every inch of the backyard and the field beside our house still bears the marks of sandlot baseball or football games or lazy summer days playing with neighborhood friends. The walls in that house bespeak many, many happy times. There were also times when we cried together when grandma died or when granddaddy died and other deaths that touched our family. There were stressful times when mom and dad worried about how the next bill would get paid or how they were going to have the money to send my sister and me to college. But, overall, that house is testimony to a wonderful childhood with the best parents that I could have ever hoped for.
I dialed my parents' phone number last night for the last time. I wanted to see how mom and dad were doing. "I don't know if I'm going to get to bed at all tonight," my mother said. "There is still so much to do!" I'd heard those words before. Late nights doing laundry so that we would have clean clothes to wear. Late nights grading papers so her students would have an idea of how they were doing in her class. Late nights cooking for a church covered-dish lunch. Those words were familiar sounding. But, for me, calling the phone number for the last time was emotional. And, talking to momma over the phone was emotional as well. I remembered the week I went to basketball camp the summer of 1969 when I got so homesick that I had to put quarters in a pay phone and call momma. I remembered all the nights from college that I called home to share what was going on in this new academic community I had joined. I remembered calling from Texas so homesick when I first went to seminary in Fort Worth. I have a lifetime of memories calling that number.
A few weeks ago, I moved some furniture to our house which became bedroom suits for my daughters. I was last at the house a few days after that for some more things. I loaded up the van with as many of my dad's tools as I could get and carried them home to Buies Creek. As I put them all up in my toolshed last Saturday, I couldn't help but think that one day my daughters will be gathering my things and splitting them up as well. And one day my daughters will be saying good-bye to the old homeplace also. I guess that's how life goes. We move from one stage to another.
Still, I'm a bit melancholy today.