Goodbye, House
October 17, 2020

Yesterday was happy/sad.

Happy/sad because we closed on the sale of the house we lived in for 28 years.

Where we raised our two girls and a few dogs along the way.

The kitchen in which I made approximately 2160 peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for school lunches.

The scene of numerous taco nights with 14 teenagers around a table made for six.

My surprise 50th birthday party thrown by Sara Ann and her friends, with help from her older sister, when they made tacos for me.

A zillion sleepovers with screaming, giggling girls.

The dining room that sometimes became a sewing room, especially the week before Easter, when I stayed up until all hours finishing dresses.

A few weeks ago we cleaned out the last of our belongings from the house. We bought the house in Germantown, Tennessee, a suburb of Memphis, in September 1991, several days before our oldest daughter, Elizabeth’s third birthday. I was in the very early first trimester of my pregnancy with our youngest, Sara Ann.

Our empty den after being vacant for a year
About to leave for the last time with a nearly-full UHaul truck

It was a fixer-upper. We painted before we moved in, a teal color that was cool in 1991. We took before photos so we could see how our efforts improved the look of the rooms.

Through the years we improved things gradually, but it was never perfect. I had a vision for this home, and it was never fulfilled. Still, it served us well as a home in which our girls and their friends felt comfortable and accepted. It was messy most of the time, but it was full of happiness. Children, dogs, and teenagers are messy — the best kind of messy.

As the girls grew up and left home, Jim and I enjoyed our times on the patio more and more. It was shady and peaceful, and once i gave up on growing grass and Jim build a large flower bed next to the patio, we spent more and more time outside.

In 2015 we were about to start working in earnest on bringing it current. Jim had received a great bonus at work and we were going to start with new floors throughout. But in May of that year, Jim lost his job. So no hardwood floors.

After five long years of job searching, Jim decided to change careers and go into real estate. We moved back to our hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas and into a rental home half the size of our home in Germantown. We still have much of our furniture from the house in storage, along with my china, silver flatware, Waterford crystal, and some lovely silver serving pieces.

We moved to Jonesboro on July 29, 2019. We planned to get the house in Germantown fixed up and sold quickly, as houses in our school district were selling quickly and for top dollar and there was still time for a family to get moved in before the new school year.

We didn’t get it sold, or even on the market that fall. Just after we moved, I began to feel weak and nauseated. As I was constantly sick to my stomach, I could barely eat. This went on until in September I became dehydrated enough to go to a minor medical clinic. Once the results of my bloodwork came back, I was immediately admitted to the hospital, where I stayed for four days, the sickest I’ve ever been.

We had a great holiday season, though it was strange to be here in Jonesboro instead of driving over from Memphis. I kind of missed the process of packing the car and driving here for the holidays. I felt fine, and thought things were back to normal and we planned to get the house ready to sell in the spring.

In January 2020, I was getting ready to go to a meeting, when I realized I was too sick to go. Jim called the doctor that day and by the next day I was back in the hospital because my calcium was high again. The doctors suspected myeloma, which is a serious form of blood cancer. After a lung biopsy, I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a rare, chronic condition with a much better prognosis than myeloma. I began a course of high-dosage steroids (65 mg/day), which would taper down over the coming months.

In March, COVID-19 hit, and I was (and still am) immunocompromised due to the steroids, which meant I could only leave the house to go to necessary medical appointments.

Later that month on March 28, a tornado roared directly over our house, taking the metal storage shed in our back yard, destroying our fence, and breaking out the back window of my car. This video was taken immediately after the tornado passed over and you can tell that my voice is still shaky. Notice the stuff that was in the shed still in place as it was before the tornado ripped the shed off its foundation. These things are strange.

Car damage thanks to the tornado

In July I went for my first mammogram in several years. As a 22-year breast cancer survivor, mammograms are always filled with anxiety. There were spots on the mammogram that concerned the doctors, so I returned the following week for a biopsy. After an agonizing week waiting for results, I got the phone call that the spot was benign.

So it is that it has taken us this long to sell our house in Germantown. It’s been stressful and expensive, as we’ve paid for utilities for two homes. Not to mention insurance, homeowners’ association fees, and property taxes. The house sat vacant for more than a year, and was not in top selling condition, so we accepted a low as-is offer from a house flipper, which meant a quick all-cash closing with no inspection.

Yesterday was the closing. The happy/relieved/sad closing, in which I told the buyer to enjoy our house, and asked if we can come back and see it after they finish renovating it.

After the closing we drove around Germantown for about an hour, driving by the girls’ middle school and high school, and the preschool that Sara Ann attended. We drove by what was my go-to Target store and the Kroger, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods where we used to shop. Then we had lunch with a couple of our dearest friends, whom we’ve known since our 32-year-olds were infants together in the church nursery.

After lunch was a socially-distanced outdoor visit with another set of dear friends and a couple of drinks of celebratory bubbly on their beautiful deck on a perfect fall day.

Then it was back to Jonesboro to celebrate around the fire pit with the fam and more bubbly and takeout from a local hibachi restaurant.

I love being here close to my family — my brother and his family, my sister and brother-in-law, our youngest daughter, and my mom, who is 85 and loves having us nearby. Jim and I planted flowers for her this spring, and he watered them for her every day this summer and is always available to help when she has issues with one of her tech devices.

Due to COVID, we cook at home most nights, and, for the most part, see only my mom who doesn’t go out much, and my sister and brother-in-law, who work from home. Jim is back in the real estate office and showing houses, but he’s very cautious and careful about social distancing. I miss going to church and the grocery store and the occasional restaurant dinner.

We’re looking forward to the next chapter. Even at 61, I’ll never be too old to look forward to the future.

Goodbye, house. You were a phenomenal home.


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