90: We Can’t Move

90: We Can’t Move

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

We Can’t Move

The home should be the treasure chest of living.

~Le Corbusier

“Mom, Dad, no! You can’t do that!”

“You can’t move!”

“Why not?” I asked, wondering at our daughters’ strong reaction to our desire to downsize.

“This is HOME! We grew up here,” Heather cried.

“How can we bring our children to show them our rooms, where we learned to ride our bikes, where we swam and partied with our friends, where we left for college and dressed for our weddings?” Jennifer circled and pointed with outstretched arms as she pleaded.

“We can show them videos.” I watched their eyes widen as I said that. I could see they felt I was being flippant. Actually, I was just stunned at their response and continued, “Besides, YOU left. You have new homes, new lives. Why not Daddy and I?”

“You… you, uh…” Jen struggled to speak and Heather completed her sentence, a typical twin reaction. “You’re just supposed to stay here at home, that’s all.”

“Honey, isn’t home where Daddy and I are, wherever we live?”

“NO,” they cried in unison. “Home is here!”

I looked at Bill and muttered, “We should have moved every few years so they wouldn’t be so attached.”

“Too late now,” he shook his head as he answered.

I tried a different approach. “We need a one-story house. You know we have arthritis, especially in our knees. I stand at the bottom of the stairs every night trying to muster enough nerve to start climbing up to bed and I’m tempted to sleep in my chair in the family room.”

Bill stepped in. “We’re getting older. We need a downstairs master suite.”

“So add one to this house,” Jennifer said, her eyes gleaming as she contemplated the changes. “You can fill in the pool and build a great suite out there.”

“And your upstairs bedroom will make a perfect guest room, Mom,” Heather added.

“Good grief, we could buy a whole new house for what that would cost!” I countered. “So what do you want us to do? Stay here until you have to drag us out feet first?”

“You do realize, don’t you,” their father continued, “that you’d have to do all the cleanup and packing and sell the house yourselves?”

They both grinned and nodded, seeming to feel they’d won a battle. I shook my head, knowing that the battle had only been delayed. We’d just have to approach it in a gentler manner. Our daughters married, packed and left this house; wasn’t it now our turn?

I looked at them again and headed to the kitchen to cook dinner for us all. As I pulled out the mixing bowl I could suddenly see the girls making chocolate chip cookies and buttermilk biscuits. I smiled at the memories that our daughters’ despair had brought back to me.

Yes, I really would love a ranch-style house. But perhaps we can wait a while, a year or so, or longer. We’ll talk about it some more, gradually easing our daughters into acceptance, waiting for the right time. For now, it’s a discussion that will be put off — while we gather around the table to share yet another meal in this house, our home.

~Jean Haynie Stewart

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