My parents are moving into a quaint 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 story apartment in Cuyahoga Falls tomorrow. The overall complex is beautiful, complete with swimming pool, tennis courts, and a dog park. The flat land area will be much easier for my Dad to navigate and the smaller living quarters will simplify life around the house for my Mom. Giving up landscaping, repairs, and an astronomical heating bill will only make it easier yet. But given all of these perks I'm still a little surprised at my lack of emotions regarding them leaving the house behind.
My parents have lived in their house for 33 years. The house was built in 1927 with 4 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms, hardwood floors stained a dark walnut, and a massive front porch the size of a family room. They paid $20,000 for it, but somehow they're still strapped down by the mortgage payments.
If anything the house was a little shorter and a little wider than most other colonials in our area, but from what I could tell, none of them had the same intricate details inside. It has 8” tall baseboards, crown molding, built-in bookshelves, built-in china and storage cabinets, and doors that joined rooms through closets that we always referred to as secret passages. Most of my friend's houses didn't have any type of separation between the front door and the main living area, but my parent's house has actual vestibules with doors at either end for both the front and back entrances. Aside from enclosed porches I've never been to another house in which you had to enter twice. My parents used to have their own photography business and they built a dark room in the basement where my Mom would print the wedding pictures my Dad caught on camera the weekend before. Before I started preschool I would hangout down there with her, and if the wooden locker where she kept the Kodak paper was nearly empty, I would climb in, close the door, and pretend to be buried alive.
These are all the little things I never appreciated until now, but they aren't enough to squash my excitement for their new apartment.
One thing to keep in mind is that, yes, these are all wonderful attributes to a family home and it is very sad to be leaving it for good, but the house is 80 years old, and the house has seen 6 unruly children, and all of their unruly friends, and then all 15 unruly grand-children. The house has seen 33 years of family, but also 33 years of mediocre up-keep. The bathrooms were renovated in the 1970's and the wood paneling and orange accents have gone untouched since. The hardwood floors desperately need refinished, the walls repainted, the gas fireplace brought up-to-code. It's all work my parents are just too old and too poor to have done.
I think that's why I'm so thrilled they are leaving it, moving to a place where a handyman will fix everything and a lawn crew will keep it all green. My Dad won't have to face 1 1/2 flights of stairs each night to go to bed, and my Mom will finally have a reason to purge 33 years worth of belongings to live the simplistic life she has wanted for so long. Of course, they are moving tomorrow and she has hardly made a dent, but we'll see how it goes.