As the family discussed her plans, I looked around at the house. Granddaddy had transformed the dining room, where we were sitting, from a garage back in the sixties. Throughout the years, scores of wonderful home-cooked meals crowned this dining table. Looking into the living room, I saw Granddaddy's favorite chair. I imagined him reading the morning newspaper there like he did for so many years. Unlike our family, each room with solid wood pieces of history; it had managed to resist the changes brought by time. Outside the window on that spring evening, I stared at my grandmother's magnificent azaleas, which were still in bloom. I wondered if they could sense that their loving caretaker, whom had called this place home for over sixty years, was about to change her life.
Tangible things ... her majestic dogwoods in the front yard, her mother's dishes, and this spacious home ... had brought her years of joy. Now, after having raised and nurtured her family, having organized countless holiday celebrations, and having maintained this home meticulously ... she looked forward to simplicity. The very things that had defined her life were now confining her. The home that had brought her security and stability for so long now presented vulnerability that she didn't feel before Granddaddy passed away. She had spent her fair share of days weeding the garden, cleaning the floors, and sweeping the porch. It was time for her to find another piece of solid ground ... in another place.
What wasn't distributed among the family was sold. The house was sold. I wasn't there the day she walked out the door for the very last time, but I can only imagine what must have been going through her mind. Sixty years of her life were inside those walls. She quietly tucked away her past and walked with faith to an unknown place. We moved her living room suite and one bed into her new one room apartment.
Nowadays, my grandmother doesn't cook. I'm delighted to say that we "do lunch" in the elegant dining room downstairs. Yes, she gave up her garden, but she enjoys the professionally arranged flowers on every floor of "Park Place"... on tables that she doesn't have to dust. She doesn't have the large porch on which to sit and drink morning and afternoon coffee; her days usually begin with morning aerobics classes and often wind down with a good game of bridge with her new friends. In fact, I have to concentrate on remembering the names of all of her new "girlfriends". I even found myself a little envious of the collegiate-style atmosphere of the retirement facility. It made me miss the days of running down the hall in my p.j.'s to visit a friend.
Though she never showed it, I know that it was the hardest thing she ever did. And even though I'm sure she has a day here and there where she misses the old house, I think she'd tell you that it was the best thing she ever did. I saw a renewed spirit and a new zest for life in her. She took her leap of faith. And again, she found solid ground ... even if it is on the second floor.
...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
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