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When Parents Decide to Downsize (a Peek into my Family Life)

When Parents Decide to Downsize (a Peek into my Family Life)

“I want to move while I still have a sound mind,” Mom said. She was in her sixties, and she and Dad knew they wouldn’t be able to stay on their country property forever. “I want to be able to decide where we live and what we’ll take with us and what we’ll get rid of when it’s time.”

 

My parents had lived in the same homestead they’d raised us in. As adults, now with our own lives, spouses, children, my five younger siblings and I would return to that familiar place we once called home and celebrate together. Christmas. Easter. Thanksgiving Day. We sat with our own children around that same table from our childhoods – the one we did homework on and had breakfast at before heading off to school. We sang in four-part harmony, with some playing guitars, just as we did when I was a child. There’s something special about connecting our pasts with theirs, overlapping memories like that.

 

But my parents knew it couldn’t last forever and began to prepare for their inevitable move. They took it slow. Over months and years, they took time going through their belongings and preparing for the estate auction sale they’d eventually have.

 

Finally the day came. It felt strange to watch their possessions be sold piece by piece like that. The old familiar coffee table we’d laughed around, the familiar serving dishes we’d all eaten from together. The paintings I’d thoughtfully stared at as a child. It felt weird, but it was also good for us to be there – I think it gave us a sense of closure and helped Mom, Dad, and the children and even grandchildren with the process of letting go.

 

That was ten years ago. They bought a condominium in town and have embraced the new chapter of their lives, diving right into the community life of living in town and in a building with others. I love seeing them take hold of it. I love having them near enough that I run into them in a local restaurant or see them go for a walk when I’m driving in town.

 

We feel the change the most when we try to get together.

We won’t all fit in a condo suite, after all.

 

It felt like a jarring difference at first to have to rent a facility for gatherings or meet in someone else’s home. But it quickly became the new normal. At Christmas my parents always rent a place for us to get together. They make sure we have a lot of space so that we are able to do some sort of activity together. Usually there’s a place to play sports. They make sure there’s enough room for everyone to eat in one room. Most of all there has to be a place where we can pull out the guitar and sing our hearts out. As soon as we gather around the table to eat or around the guitar to sing songs in that familiar four-part harmony, we once again feel at home together.

 

Home, we discovered, was never a place; it was the happy experience of being together.

 

Letting go doesn’t have to be as difficult as one might fear. Especially when we have the blessing of living near each other and being able to get together and love each other.

 

We are blessed to have the memories of the past and the old homestead. We are even more blessed to continue to spend time together and watch our families grow.

 

What ‘new normal’ have you experienced, and what felt like “home” to you in it?

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