As grad students, post-docs, faculty-position-searcher-outer's, we've moved a bit; not as bad as some, but more than the average bear. The past 10 years have seen us in five different apartments/houses, six if you count the year back at home. But there's the rub - that home has been home base since I was born. My parents have not moved house in 36 years. And my grandmother's house, a mere 2 minutes away, has been our second home base; it's been there since my grandfather built it himself back in 1963.
When my grandmother's Alzheimer's disease progressed from mild to moderate, we were fortunate to get her a place in long term care. She's been there nearly 5 years, and her physical health remains good for nearly 94 years old; her dementia has progressed, though. She's no longer independently mobile, having gone from a walker to a wheelchair, to most recently a geriatric chair this past summer. She still speaks, but word-finding is hit or miss. Her cognitive decline means that, instead of the hours of torture and anxiety when she couldn't find the people she expected in her life (many of whom have been gone for decades), she now spends a lot of time being quiet, content to remain in her seat.
But even with all these changes, I could rationalize that things were still OK, because my brother and sister-in-law had moved in to rent her house, maintain it, give it life again. After getting over the initial heart-pangs walking in with their belongings in it instead of my grandmother's, it became home base again. This past year, when N. and I were missing Hubby, we'd have fun 'super-sleepover-weekends at Uncle J and Aunt J's house, baking cookies, playing videogames, roasting marshmallows in the fire-pit. My grandmother's house became a safe place for N., just as it had been for me as a child.
But the house is old. It's tiny. Two small bedrooms, no real functional basement space, and a lot of repairs need to be done. J&J rightfully need their own space, to build their own life and hopefully start a family. My grandmother's house was never going to be long term. And at the end of the summer, after several years of looking, they found their new house, bought it, and moved in.
Now my grandmother's house sits empty, more empty than it's been for more than 50 years. And the amount of money needed to winterize, maintain, insure, and keep it is too much for my parents to take on. They've got power of attorney, and my grandmother's will was updated before her dementia set in - the house is to be sold and the money put in trust.
Last night, someone made an offer. And my father accepted it.
I don't know how long the process will take. We know the gentleman who's buying. He knew my grandmother for decades, and respects her. But I also know that the likelihood is that the house will be torn down and a new building put up in its place.
My logical brain knows it's the best plan, the only plan. The house needs tens of thousands in renovations to make it livable for a family with kids of our generation. It's going to quickly become a money pit no matter what we do.
I'm ready, but I'm not. If I get to go home next summer, I don't know what I'll find.
Some people are attached to places, cities, but not buildings. People move all the time. Heck, N. has lived in four places in his six-year-old life, and I think he's pretty darn well-adjusted. The people we love aren't the houses they live in. But this is so damn hard.
Part of me just wants to block it out, since we're 4400km away, and I can pretend it's not happening. But every time I try to do that, I just cry.
Life is such an odd thing.