And for one last time I turned the key, locked the door, and walked away. Never to return. And despite going to Texas for this specific reason, knowing I am nearing the end of the book, not just the chapter, I began to sob. I sat in the car for at least 20 minutes with memories flooding my mind, unable to actually focus and see the house.
My grandparents built this house in 1968, fully intending to spend their golden years there. They were almost 50 and their children were grown. Within two years I would be living there, with my grandparents and mother as she navigated being a single parent. It would be a place my mother and I would stop when out on errands. It’s where I would ask to go to just talk to my grandpa when my grandma was playing bingo. It’s where I would always call home until I got married.
I would live in the house for a few years when my mom worked nights. I would walk in to the house after school when I was in second grade, after it had been robbed. I would be in this house to welcome my grandparents home from their many trips to far-off lands.
There were birthday parties, break fast dinners, Thanksgiving feasts, Hanukkah celebrations, and Passover seders. Lots of them. With lots of people. It would also be full of people for wedding celebrations as well as funerals. I can hear the buzz of the dryer. And the quiet as I did my homework at the kitchen table alone before my grandparents came home.
I remember the kitchen table with the divot in it from when my grandfather’s handgun discharged as he prepared to clean it. The corner cabinet in the dining room, made by my grandfather. The antique curved-glass dessert cart that sat in front of the picture window. And the 1950s Grundig stereo that my grandfather would listen to, which now sits in my house.
For the past year I’ve been ready to sell the house. I’ve gone back and packed up, cleaned, and prepared for this moment. I was focused and methodical. This wasn’t emotional. There were no tears. The house had to be sold. I didn’t want to keep going back and forth to take care of it and my grandmother was no longer able to do it herself. It was a stark reality and I approached it very business-like.
That was until I turned the key that one last time. I can never go back. I’ll never walk through the door again and hear the laughter, the tears, or the silence. It’s all gone. It’s not my grandparent’s house any more. The house may be gone, but the memories. I will always have those.