My wife and I have just returned from a long weekend away in western Massachusetts, celebrating a belated Christmas with my family. And I was on hand as an unexpected development occurred and threw me for an emotional loop…
Allow me to clarify my lead: My parents are selling my childhood home.
My wife and I have just returned from a long weekend away in western Massachusetts, celebrating a belated Christmas with my family. On the day of our arrival — almost to the hour, in fact, my parents had decided and committed to buy a new condo, a few towns over from their current residence. The last time I had spoken to them, while they were considering buying a second house someplace like the Carolinas, they had talked about keeping the old house.
Now, without any preamble, they’ve committed to selling it and moving into their new condo this spring.
Just like that, I realized that after living there for 34 years, my parents were selling my childhood home, which they had purchased as their wedding gift to one another. The place I have thought of as “home”, that storehouse of memories, is being sold, and I am unlikely to have time to return to it again before the transaction is done.
All of this was perfectly obvious the moment I heard the news, but it didn’t realy register until late that night, when I was in my parents’ basement, finishing my writing for the night. After this weekend, I would never see my childhood home again.
And the part of it that upsets me most? Not the fact I won’t get to walk around inside again. It’s that I worry about the oak tree in the front yard. My father and I planted that tree on May 24, 1980. There’s a picture of the event in the family album. Me, a scrawny kid with no shirt on, dad with a shovel, the two of us depositing a Charlie Brown-pathetic sapling into the ground.
Twenty-eight years later, that oak tree is majestic. Dozens of arms, forty feet tall. In summer, when it’s in full leaf, it shades the entire house. It’s a magnificent tree, and my father and I put it there. In the emotional core of my messed-up brain, that tree is a powerful symbol of my bond with my father.
And soon it won’t belong to us anymore.
I feel like some intangible link to my childhood has been severed, and I’m adrift.
Then I came home tonight and received an e-mail that informed me that a friend of mine, the only son of my pal Bob Greenberger, has been diagnosed with leukemia and is facing a hard fight. In my twenties, another close friend of mine, Keith Kowal, died of leukemia. I know it’s going to be a battle for my friend who is ill now.
For all the sadness I’ve felt about never again seeing that tree in my parents’ yard, if you told me I could cure my friend by chopping it down, we’d all be divvying up kindling right now.
And that’s called perspective, I think.
ETA: My friend Bob has gone public on his blog with the news about his son Robbie’s illness. I’ve added a link to Bob’s blog.