Growing up my mom designed a floorplan not once but twice in her lifetime. The first time when I was about nine years old and my sister was three with our dad, about a year or two later it got overwhelming on him and he walked out on our family leaving a note on the bathroom shelf saying, “You know I never wanted kids, Bye!” and placed a handful of change on top of it.
We lost our home as being a “mom” to her two daughters meant more to her than working outside the home. She did do sewing and tailoring to enhance the small amount she received from AFDC each month. She got a rental in the Green Harbor section of town from a friend who was also into real estate, and we lived their seven years. Our dad’s best friend in High School stepped into our lives and my moms’ life, and he made sure we always had enough to live on – monetarily and nourishmentwise.
Mom and he fell in love and she designed another floorplan with him, and together they built our second home. Mom moved in first with my sister and I (I am the oldest by six years). She married my dad’s best friend two weeks later, and he moved in as our new stepdad immediately. He was always more of a dad, as he loved the responsibility of a family and all it held – as though he was married before, and not happy, he never had children. Within seven months of us all moving in, my youngest sister – eighteen years my junior – was born. Oh yes, we had our share of sibling rivalry just as any other family does – and girls can be a handful (boys too!) , but I love them both and my youngest is more like our mom everyday in her ways and thoughts.
Two years ago, our stepdad and our little sister’s dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was hopeful of recovering, and though forced into retirement that was due primarily to bullying coworkers, I feel God gave me the opportunity to spend time with him before he passed. I will always cherish that time, and his advice eight years earlier that I have never forgot that pulled me out of financial trauma the third (and hopefully, the last) time. With my mom gone over fifteen years, and now both my dad and stepdad gone, our home seemed lacking and sad. I prayed for an answer every night, and realized that when the family bond of parents passes suddenly the loving home becomes nothing more than the contents within – just a house of stuff.
With the help of family and friends, I was encouraged it was time to move out and on to find myself. A realtor friend stepped back into my life and as I helped her marketing for homes for sale and continued looking at open houses which had been something my mom and I started doing before she passed, suddenly one day the realtor showed me a place online and we made an appointment to see it. Well, the instant I walked in the feeling of “your home” filled my heart, and though nervous then, I could not be any happier now. In fact, I feel mom and my stepdad with me and even closer today and smiling over me. Oh, there is still “stuff” inside the old house that was left to all three of us – the personal stuff, and my sister’s were left the house and land to divide on which to live.
It’s not the “stuff” that matters as I think back on what mom was teaching us – but it is the fact that “stuff” can become too overwhelming to save (as the first home she designed and built), losing that stuff we can find (as she did) a deeper meaning and happiness that grew and lasted the rest of her life. She found a second chance to happiness after dad walked out. It only goes to show that the “stuff” we try to cling too only weighs us down and we need to let go and move on, as life is too short not to.