As I mentioned over the weekend, our little town has “Garage Sale Day” each year in June. As if that’s not fun enough, the following week is Village Clean-Up. Seriously, I love Village Clean-Up. For the past three years or so, my head has so far far up my ass that I didn’t savor this wonderful week as fully as I could/should have. This year, I have plenty to set out in my trash….literally and figuratively (which gives me even more great ideas!)
Last night was Cheeseburger Sunday, so we had a houseful of strapping young people to help us haul our junk to the curb. We fairly emptied out the back shed of its accumulation of years and years worth of kids’ toys. The crib went out to the curb, too, along with the kiddie pool, and a variety of bikes. After we had a significant pile in front of our house, we decided to head over to my parents’ vacant house to haul a few of the heavier, non-auction items to the curb.
Those of you who stuck it out with me on my other blog are familiar with how difficult I have found it to let go of my childhood home. This time last year, T and I were considering a massive addition/renovation to the house. Once we realized that we would have been putting more money into the house than we would have ever be able to get out of it if we ever sold, we nixed the project altogether. The house has continued to sit in limbo. Its a bit forlorn, and except for the occasional “Mom and Dad need a place to be alone,” no one spends any time there at all.
Well, Mom and Dad have been needing to “be alone” quite often recently, and with the summer lawn care, T and I have been spending more time over there lately. The conversations have begun again. “Should we move here?” We have been batting around a new plan. If we sold our house first, then we would be debt-free. We would also have a significant profit to work with for a less-major remodeling project. We would be downsizing, but that makes sense at this point. Hey, maybe one (or two) of the kids will eventually move out, and then we wouldn’t need so much space! As we have discussed, the possibilities for a more modest renovation, we have both been getting kind of excited about a change. The neighborhood and yard are wonderful. It’s a cute brick bungalow. As much history as we have in our current house, there is so much more in my parents’ home. We both remember my great-grandparents and grandparents visiting there. Our babies grew into young adults while their own grandparents lived in that home. I grew up there. Our wedding reception was in the backyard. T and my dad built the brick patio especially for that event. T and I have a huge shared history in that house. It’s so hard to imagine letting that repository of our memories go.
There’s a downside, though. Finding my father dead in the living room that horrible December night is memory that none of us have been able to get past. We are wary each time we open the door of that house. Lola won’t let go of my hand for at least ten minutes each time we go over there. None of us can walk into the living room without our eyes darting to that spot on the floor where grandpa left us. We are trying to forget. All of us are trying. It’s beginning to lift. I feel it. The old house is beginning to feel more normal. We are going to take it a step further by removing the carpets soon and refinishing the hardwood floors. A fresh coat of paint will help lift the house’s spirits, too.
Last night, we were took things to the curb (which was very difficult!) at my parents’ home, and we searched from room to room to see what else could go. The old couch from the TV room, ah…lots of memories there! My parents must have had that couch for over 30 years, and the two ugly velvet chairs. We had a nice pile, which by the way, the “Pickers” were there like vultures waiting for each load we hauled outside. That’s my favorite thing about Village Clean-Up. I love the scruffy guys in beat up pickup trucks driving slowly around town looking for their treasures.
Lola and I headed into the living room to look out the window at the pile. I purposely took her through to the sun room. She told me that she felt like she was stepping on Grandpa. I agreed with her. I always feel the same thing. She and I stood there for a moment looking at an old floor lamp. As ugly as it was, I always loved that lamp when I was a little girl. Andrew came in and asked me if I wanted to get rid of it. I flipped on one of the three lights on the lamp. It worked. I said I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to get rid of it. It was so retro. Maybe I’ll keep it. He agreed. He said he had always loved that lamp, too. Then he said, “What in the hell is this? Is this a bird?”
Lola and I saw the dark shape through the amber glass. It looked like the shape of a bird! I immediately thought of the fake birds I remembered from flower arrangements and wreaths as a child. That’s probably what it was! I told Andrew to lift up the amber globe, and we all took a step back. My God! It WAS a DEAD BIRD! It was in the skinny clear glass around the bulb. Head first, the bird was shoved down the tube. Its claws were curved into grotesque fists and a streak of bird shit was smeared on one side of the glass. We were stunned and speechless. We yelled for T to come see. Yeah, and we all grabbed our phones and started taking pictures. Any thoughts of keeping the lamp were GONE. Andrew carried it out to the curb.
Today I had lunch with T. I asked him if he thought the bird was a sign? “Jesus….” he said. Well, that’s the extent of that conversation. T takes no stock in such things, but I have thought about it frequently today. One thing I do know for sure is that my dad would have absolutely loved it! It was just the kind of random, weird happening that would have kept him entertained and in conversation for days. He would have loved telling that story. He would have loved seeing our faces. I hope he did see it all, because I know he would still be laughing.
Tonight as I was hoeing the garden, Emily came out to help me. As we worked, she asked me if I though the bird was an omen. “AH……I KNOW!!” I practically yelled at her. I told her that I had told Dad. Her reaction was “phffft….. Why did you do that?” She knows that he wouldn’t see anything as an omen, even a black bird shoved down into a lamp in the same room where a man died. Uh huh.
I have mulled it over. I’ve tried to gather the message or the meaning. As creepy and strange as it all seems, I am not afraid of the dead bird. It doesn’t feel bad or evil, but it does feel important. I feel like I am supposed to dig and search for a deeper meaning, or a sign, from this experience. That’s what I have been exploring in my head all evening. What does it mean?
Why doesn’t it seem like a gloomy or a dooming omen? I am surprised that I don’t feel a sense of foreboding. I should, but I don’t. Instead, a thought is beginning to take shape. “Let it go. Let it die. It’s simple and easy.” Now, that also seems gloomy and foreboding, but once again, that isn’t the feeling I have as I think those thoughts. Instead, I am thinking that the sadness needs to die. Holding onto negative, self-defeating thoughts have to die. I have to let go of the BAD. I have to let the BAD die, and like that lamp (which I loved) and the dead bird (which was gross!) I have to take MY OWN BAD out to the curb. I have to let go of the bad and kick it to the curb.