Thursday, May 15, 2014

Going Home Again

Many of you may be aware that this past January, my youngest sister, Patty, died at the age of 61.  Some of you may not be aware of this fact because at the time of her death, I chose not to talk about it either on this blog or on Facebook.  Some time has passed, and we, the family, continue to deal with both the emotional and practical ramifications of the death of the first of my parents' children to die.  If I have learned anything at all as a volunteer at the Highmark Caring Place, it is that grief is a journey that never really ends, and that we all must recognize that while also recognizing that everyone's "grief journey" will be different, and that each of us will react differently along the ups and downs of that trail.

However, I don''t want to dwell so much on the emotional aspects my sister's passing, but rather one of the practical aspects that took place earlier in the week.

The Executor of her estate is in the process of preparing our family home for sale, and she asked that my brother, Bill, and I meet with her at the house to take away some of the personal mementos of our family history that had accumulated over the almost seventy years that the Sproules had occupied our Squirrel Hill home - photos, documents, letters, religious articles, and such.

I realized prior to driving out there that this may well have been the final time I would ever enter the home in which I grew up, and even though I haven't actually lived there for forty years, it is still, and I suppose, always will be "our house".  I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  Would I be sad?  Would I be angry?  Would I cry?  Or would I just experience an odd sense of resignation? To tell you the truth, what I felt more than anything was a feeling that I can only describe as "weird".  I did feel some emotions, but nothing that pushed me over the edge in either direction.  Nor did a flood of memories, both good or bad, wash over me as I walked through the house.  So maybe it was "resignation" that I felt as I made that visit.

Thomas Wolfe said famously that "you can't go home again", but I am not sure that that is what I felt.  I suppose that another aphorism - "Home is where the heart is" - is more applicable in this case.  The bricks and mortar of the house that my parents and older sister and brothers moved into in 1944 will soon pass to new owners, but the memories of the house, and more importantly, the home in which I grew up will always be with me.

Now, as for the "stuff" that I took with me.  I have a couple of boxes and bags of stuff that I will be looking through in the days ahead, and will no doubt also be sharing with my brothers and sister, but one thing I did grab, and will not be giving up, is a small portable AM-FM radio that was my Dad's.  On the back of it my Dad had applied  - with the label maker he just LOVED to play with - the following labels:


There are some things on which you just can't put a price.

1 comment:

  1. I remember board games and fun times on those random Saturday afternoons. As far as the house no longer being yours, I know the feeling. Our Montclair St. address is now becoming a fading memory.