After years of sneaking into my room late at night, I know every creak in the hallway as I'd became a ninja at avoiding them.
It's been nearly a decade since Dad's passing, and I'm still struggling to let go of my parents' house. It had been rented out for most of this time, although when the tenant moved out, I knew a decision needed to be made.
My parents owned the home for 70 years and had been given this piece of land from my great-grandparents, who had made their living from what had once been orchards. The neighborhood is showing its age, and as much I hate to admit it, I don't have the energy to get it ready to be rented again. The struggle is, when it's sold, I'll never be able to go back inside.
After it was officially on the market, my sister and I made one last walk through. I was taking pictures of every wall, cubby hole, cabinet and dent as though I'm going to make a memory book. I mean, I could, but who would want to look at it besides my siblings? Our kids came over to say goodbye to their grandparents' house, but it doesn't hold the same sentiments for them.
The wall that's no longer separating my sister and I's bedroom from the dining room is a great example of a memory so strong it never fades. While eating dinner, just my parents and me, as my siblings were much older and already out of the house by the time I was 10, the wall debate ended. Mom had been asking Dad for months to take out the wall, for the bedroom, that was no longer needed, to make the dining room bigger and he'd avoided the subject long enough. I had noticed a hammer sitting on the table, alongside her plate, but didn't give it much thought until she got up, swing the hammer, put a hole in the wall and said, "I guess this wall will come down now."
The basement holds its own lifeline with the stairwell papered on either side with flight plans as a reminder of Dad's time of serving in the Army and then having had his own plane for many years. As a young couple, the basement had been transformed into a place to party with square dances being held nearly every weekend, complete with a checkered tiled floor, speakers built into the ceiling, and a bar with the propeller from his plane proudly mounted above it.
The finished basement became a place of refuge for me during my young adult years, moving out and then moving back in, numerous times, learning life lessons, and taking comfort in knowing I could always come back home.
I took care of Mom in that front room during her last months of life and again found myself moving back home to have the privilege of giving Dad direction while he dealt with dementia. It's a bittersweet situation. The only home I've ever known is truly the house that built me and it's hard to say goodbye.
Sandy Turner is a mom, grandma, former caretaker and retired journalist living in Missouri who writes a weekly column about home, family relationships and keeping positive during challenging times.