After 28 eventful years, I sold the family house and moved precisely two miles northeast to a smaller, more modest 1950s house.
It was quite the undertaking emotionally and physically.
It started last November, on a rainy, cold day when I was bored. I drove around my area looking for houses for sale. The listing service with my agent was turning up no properties that fit my requirements: 3 beds, two baths, small yard.
I went down a block I had never been on and saw a cute ranch with a for sale sign. Hmmm, I wondered. Why did my agent not tell me about this one? I found it on a real estate web site and saw the potential. It hadn’t come to our attention because it has only two bedrooms. I called my agent and we got in the next day.
The house needed a good deal of work and the furnishings, wall colors and carpet were all ugly. But it showed promise and had many of the things I was looking for. A few days later, I made a lower offer that took into consideration the house had a leaking, decrepit roof, no AC and a half remodeled bathroom. It was accepted.
I bought the house in late November — signed the contract Thanksgiving morning and immediately began hiring tradespeople to get the house into shape. Project managing this house kept me busy for much of the winter. Meanwhile, I also hired and managed workers to fix up the family house, which needed many repairs and improvements to meet the city’s rigorous inspection codes.
The process was pleasant until about March, when my grown daughter started outwardly expressing her emotions about leaving this beautiful house and all its memories. I, too, had emotions, but knew I had to get out of there before my daughter left me to join her long-time boyfriend in another city. I did not want to live in that house alone again. After Tom’s death, I did it for four years when my daughter was away at school but I was working full time then. The cancer diagnosis and the resulting mobility shortcomings gave me a greater incentive to live in a one-story house.
The memories we had of life in the house as a family of four, then three, then two, then one, now two again were both sweet and sorrowful. Tom loved the house. If he were alive, it would have been nearly impossible to pry him out of there. Now my daughter was making the transition even harder.
She became moody and angry with me about everything. She was slow to pack her 28 years of clothes, toys, photos and countless bins of school memorabilia. I’d lay in bed at night in pain from bone cancer and stress about how I was going to move all the stuff in this house to another, smaller house. I’d fret about who was going to do all this moving because I could not lift a box or anything weighing more than a pound. I would have to rely on friends, family and professional movers to do it all. I couldn’t sleep. I lost my appetite.
As it turned out, the old house sold in one day to a young couple. More emotions. More questions. Did I sell it too cheap? Should I have taken the first offer? More worrying about moving. More harsh words with my daughter who said this was the only home she ever had.
But months and weeks went by and slowly things got packed up by my dear, strong, healthy friends and family members. My son and daughter in law helped by taking stuff that they wanted to their house. The new house slowly was remodeled; the handyman nearly took residence in the old house to get it in shape for the sale. I still laid sleepless most nights.
In late April, we moved to the new house. In May, I closed on the family house. It took friends and family again to help me unpack dozens of heavy boxes, organize stuff, sell things, and give away items mostly by leaving them on the curb.
We are nearly settled in the new house, but, despite me hiring an inspector who said back in December that I had a good house, I am finding out it has more and more undisclosed flaws.
My daughter leaves soon. The next challenge is feeling good about living here alone.