While Papa was settling in at the assisted living place, my mom and I were left with the question of what to do with his house, and all the things in his house.
My parents moved to Arkansas right after Caleb, my oldest was born. My mom says it’s my fault… I got married and moved out of the house at 18, leaving my parents early empty-nesters.
To combat the empty void, my mom decided to pursue her doctorate degree at North Texas. I’m pretty sure she also re-modeled her bathroom, redecorated and painted a few rooms all in one summer too!
So 4 years later, Ph.D in hand, she’s ready to teach at a University but there was not a position for her in Tyler or Dallas. She began putting out resumes right as my pregnancy test turned positive. At the time I hated to tell her to stay, because we didn’t have deep roots in East Texas yet. Adam and I both grew up there but we didn’t have jobs that we wanted to be at for the rest of our life. We had thought of moving too. I thought it’d be our luck, that I would convince my parents to stay close and then we’d be the ones moving. For all we knew, we might join them in Arkansas.
Well, 13 years and 3 kids later they’re still in ARK and we’re still in TX! So when Papa left his house, it was possible my parents might keep it and have a place to transition back to East Texas when my mom retires.
So for awhile, Papa’s house just sat empty and his stuff untouched.
I remember walking over there and passing through his shop. This place that used to be orderly was in complete disarray. The last few months boxes and miscellaneous items had been stacked on the tables. Cobwebs took the place for sawdust and trash for freshly sawed wood.
It didn’t get better when I walked into the house. It still smelled the same. But it didn’t feel the same.
I longed to hear the blaring sound of Walker Texas Ranger coming from the TV and Papa clearing his voice before saying “Come in!”
It was just empty.
My daughter, who used to love visiting Papa wouldn’t even go over with me and when she did, she just cried. “Papa would never let his back yard look like this!” she would cry.
The house was just dead space without his life in there.
One day, I had cooked some food for a retreat I spoke at and needed an overflow refrigerator. I had taken the casserole to Papa’s and was now picking them up on my way to the retreat.
As I walked in the stillness stabbed me. It’s just not right, I whispered to myself.
I spoke into the silence, “Papa, I miss you.”
I went to the fridge and the plant from my grandmother’s funeral caught my eye. I ached to see both of them here in this house.
Finally, I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath and said out loud again (talking to yourself is normal for only children!) “Meme and Papa, thank you. Thank you for every memory, every moment we shared. Your love has made me the woman I am today. I am going to be OK. You would want me to continue pressing on to be who God’s called me to be! That’s what I’m going to do. But I miss you.”
There’s still days it gets me. Grief just sneaks up sometimes. There’s the day I first saw the for-sale sign planted in the front yard. Thanks to a busted water heater and moldy carpet we had to replace, my parents decided it was better to sell the house than try to maintain from afar.
I knew that, but seeing that sign, it hit me in the gut again.
Oh how I miss my kids bugging me, “Mom, can I go to Papa’s? Can I please??”
I miss walking over to his house to tell them it’s time to come home and seeing the tips of two fishing poles inching up over the hill from the lake.
I miss his greetings and facial expressions when I walk through his door.
I miss his hugs. He would grab my head, squeeze me say “OH I LOVE YOU PRECIOUS!” I felt like I would pop! If I said “Ouch!” he’d say, “Oh, that didn’t hurt!”
I miss him pushing my kids around in wheel barrow when they were supposed to be raking.
I just miss him.
But, oh so thankful for all the memories. They formed who I am today.
This post is apart of a series called 31 stories of hope for every homeschooler. To see the entire series, click HERE