In my role as a Realtor I have a unique view into the complexities of selling homes, and none is more layered and surprisingly emotional than selling the family home or a parent’s home.
In my role as a caregiver, I just had the odd experience of being both a home seller, caregiver and Realtor and seeing it from all views. I had to find someone to help me sell my Mom’s home. The time had come. I was not prepared for the kaleidoscope of emotion this unleased.
Standing on my Mom’s porch, surveying what had been her refuge and her joy, was her neglected garden. It is winter , so there were a lot of bare twigs and branches, empty spaces where peonies would push out in the spring, vines tangled on the fence that would be a cascade of roses in another month. But the promise of spring was not in the cards for my mom. She was in the winter of her life and and this leafless garden, standing bare in the sunlight, amplified the undeniable fact that her life , unlike this garden, was not going to revitalize. This garden, with some care and nurturing, would spring forth again, but she, her fragile limbs, paper thin skin, and bright blue eyes could not rekindle. All the choices she made in her life, all the effort and energy she put into her ride here on planet Earth would soon be nothing but dreamy memories if recalled by people who knew her, and gone completely if they did not. And in reviewing a life every day that is coming to a close, one cannot escape looking inward at the life you are crafting.
We are distracted generally in life, distracted by events, personal and global. Distracted with shopping, and paying bills, washing the car, getting kids to piano lessons. Distracted by climate change, Syrian refugees, ISIS. The big deep question of living richly doesn’t have time to rise to the top, it is pushed down or out by the white noise of a busy life and concerns for the planet.
Caregivers are awash in the fragile nature and fleeting days of any given life. They are watching the sand slide irrevocably through the narrow neck of the hourglass, never to return and it puts an edge on everything. Each day is suddenly more precious, each spring a miracle to enjoy, each sunset a marvelous display of the planet successfully turning a complete cycle. Wonders not to be taken lightly. Or, for the very conscious to be celebrated as the miracles they are.
I had to hire someone to take Mom’s home and find it’s new owner. Half of me wanted to make it swift and efficient, capture the profit for her care and support. Do the right thing, guarantee her comfort The other half was tortured knowing this home, this exoskeleton of her life was going on the block, and evidence of her existence here would be obliterated. My heart ached for some evidence that her youth really existed, that her love affairs mattered, that her curiosity made a difference. All bundled up in her home were all the choices she made, the values she embraced, the things she gave her life to.
I hoped the Realtor understood how hard this was, and yet I hoped she was just good at what she did and would follow through for me. I needed to believe she knew Sierra foothill buyers and the colors they liked and the dreams they were pursuing and she could make the house the best one on the block to fit that dream. Because my mom deserved a great outcome. Her dwindling life was once robust here and now it was time to pass this house along.
Remember the grasshopper and the ant. Our days ARE finite, we do need to be conscious in our use of time, our contributions matter in the end. If you do not have an elder in your daily life this will be another passing thought, you will be distracted by your kids or your job or your partner. But if you are caring for an elder, you know what I mean. The end is always in sight, both yours and theirs and it puts a special light on your every action.