I had plenty of time to prepare. My father is a great thinker, and at heart, a conservative guy, so any life-altering decision takes time. I also know once he’s made a decision, he acts quickly, so I wasn’t taken off guard as some of his friends and neighbors might have been.
That doesn’t change the fact it is a monumental event for me.
With the exception of a couple of distant memories, that house on the edge of Amish country was the only home I ever really knew. Even though I moved out when I was 19, and I’ve lived many places since, and even now owning my own home, my roots are in the Delaware Valley.
I spent the entirety of my youth in that school district, and several of my friends still live in the area. Many of the activities, restaurants and sports I enjoy are there. No matter where I live, “where I’m from” and “home” are synonymous to me. Even after I moved away, I always had a base to operate from.
This isn’t sour grapes. It’s exactly the right move for Dad. Many of his friends from his old neighborhood have settled in Florida, while many in the north have moved away. He doesn’t enjoy the cold. And for a man living on his own, a two-story house on two acres of fairly open ground requires more attention than he wants to give it at this point.
I knew early on I didn’t want to take on the house, either. It’s a great place to raise a family, but while it’s full of memories and the big yard was perfect for keeping a kid entertained, I always knew it was too much house and too much yard for adult me and the life I have chosen.
The difficulty for me is just “change.” The closing of a chapter spanning nearly 45 years of my life. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of reminders this winter as we help him decide what of his belongings he is taking and what he is parting with. Still, with Dad spending one more winter up this way, we’ll have an opportunity to get in a few of our old favoritethings before he heads out.
Changes, big and small, are inevitable. You can try to fight it, but holding back change is like holding back water. Eventually, it seeps through. It’ll be an adjustment to get used to having to rent a place to stay when I go back to the home country, but in fairness, much of it is becoming hard for me to recognize.
I recently got lost on a highway “back home” because all the landmarks I remember are gone and have been replaced by the same strip malls you can find in Anytown, U.S.A. Most of my favorite watering holes and restaurants have gone away. My old high school, though the same building, has been so extensively remodeled I couldn’t find may way to any of my old classrooms. Heck, it even has football now.
No, it’s important for all of us, no matter what our age, to embrace change and live in the present. It can be hard to let go of the past, but neither can you wallow in it, nor can you bend it to your will
And, hey, look at the benefits.
Should the kid choose to go to college in Florida, Dad and I will be neighbors. On the other hand, if she chooses someplace up north, I’ll appreciate being able to escape the cold climes with a visit over the winter.
But, most important, I look forward to my Dad’s next adventure. He deserves it.