Family Forever

When we moved from Tennessee to Maine, it was a major ordeal to coordinate. We were moving three cars as well as all our possessions. In my experience, moving has not been fun. In fact, moving is something I dreaded whenever Ed was assigned a new church. When we decided to move to Maine, I made Ed promise me that we would never move again! Content in our eternal housing stability, it didn't take us long to fill up this 3-story house with stuff, more stuff, and even more stuff. It didn't matter - we'd never move again!

Alas, fate intervened. Rachel got married and left. Matt is getting married and has left. We looked around us and agreed that it's time to find a small, cozy home for us old folks.

How on earth did we not think this would happen? We knew our house was huge, and we realized our kids would grow up and move out - at least we realized it on a subconscious level. It was more comfortable (but definitely not realistic) to imagine that it would always be the four of us - because as much as I enjoy seeing my kids fall in love and get married, it is a major source of loss for me. I miss them.

We four have had so much fun in this house! Matt used to play basketball in the driveway. Once he had his whole class over after a school play in which he was narrator. We still laugh about the time he was downstairs and saw a girl walking on the railroad tracks and ran up to his room to get a better view, hopped right up on the windowseat and ran smack dab into the window frame. Ed told him even though his nose may hurt, at least he didn't run into the window pane and fall into the yard two stories down. Matt and I stayed up countless nights reading Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby and The Jungle and Heart of Darkness. This house is where he recuperated from grueling jobs at Dunkin' Donuts and the grocery store. This is where he held his LAN parties - with computer cords snaking everywhere, even up to the third floor. This is where Matt finally grew taller than me. The pencil marks are still on the wall beside the sewing room door.

This house was a respite for Rachel, too. She was away in the dorms in Orono for most of our time here, but when she experienced stress with the College of Education at the university, it was here she could talk about it with us and sometimes cry. It was in this house that she watched countless football games on TV (along with Beverly Hills 90210). Here she played with her beloved Rusty dog, laughing when he climbed up on the couch to get a better view of a cat outside the window.

It was in this kitchen that Rachel proudly presented her new boyfriend, Chris, and I got to shake his hand for the second time (the first time was school open house years ago when he was Matt's science teacher). It was in our Timeless Room that Sarah and Matt excitedly told us their engagement news, after they returned from Schoodic Point where he proposed.

And it was here we continued the traditions for family Christmas. It may sound monotonous to outsiders, but these little rituals are what I will probably miss most. Daddy helps with lights, then leaves the rest to us until it's time for the angel on top. We have the annual argument of whether to use tinsel (Daddy likes it, Mama and kids don't). As we lift each ornament, we reminisce on its significance. Then we have another disagreement over the cardinals. Daddy thinks they are too old and disheveled and need to be thrown away. The kids absolutely adore those little birds and don't care how they look. So the birds manage to perch on the branches, slightly askew. We have another bird that is not a cardinal, and all its feathers have fallen off. The kids insist on its staying too. We humor them. The naked bird never stays upright. It ends up upside down within a few hours. Then before we open presents on Christmas Eve, we have to eat our special dinner of chili, cheese, and hard rolls. Rachel hates chili, but still insists on having it because it's tradition. She takes a few token bites. Of course, that's OK because on New Year's Day we have cabbage or greens and blackeyed peas and cornbread - a meal Matt hates.

I guess I can find consolation in the fact that these traditions started when the children were very young, and I know they will continue in our new house, and their houses as well, as they blend old traditions with the new.

Yes, we knew the children would grow up and move on, but having it actually happen catches us by surprise, in a way. They are our two important treasures. I hope their spouses realize how much we trust them to take care of our Rachel and Matt. I know Chris and Sarah are up to the challenge.

We will always be family. The family is just getting bigger. Now the house is ready for a new family to move in and start making memories. And Ed has promised me, that after this move, we will never move again!