by Edie Ravenelle
At 55, I am finally leaving home.
But in walking through my now-empty childhood home one last time, I may as well be five, sitting on the speckled linoleum-tile floor of my playroom nook at the base of the back staircase, playing Barbies. Or 10, standing on a sturdy pine footstool at our 1960s Formica kitchen counter, cracking open the hazelnuts that my Czech mom will use to make my favorite Christmas cookies. Or 15, spinning and waltz-jumping across the early-winter black-ice on the pond behind my house, pretending to be Dorothy Hamill.
For the past nine months — nine months exactly from when my 91-year-old mom died and left me to clean out 62 years of “waste not, want not” accumulation — my 2,541 square foot childhood home has been a living, breathing time capsule. As I sorted everything into “save,” sell,” “donate,” or “toss,” my emotions followed suit. I was so happy to discover the post-World War II love letters that my parents had written to one another across an ocean. But sadness paused my purge of broken things when I again held the wall phone receiver that had transmitted the news of my older sister’s sudden death on her 30th birthday. And I actually laughed out loud when I read the tiny handwritten note pinned to a half-finished piece of exquisite petit point embroidery that my mom had stuffed into a reused plastic produce bag: “I started, you finish!”
It’s so like my mom to be telling me what to do, even now.
As I pull the front door closed behind me, I smile thinking about the mom, dad, and their two young children who will soon be moving in. Their realtor told mine that the mom is of Czech descent. I’m not at all surprised.
IMAGE: Vintage petit point embroidery of house.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Edie Ravenelle is a writer, editor and marketing communications consultant who lives west of Boston. Her marketing work has appeared in regional news media, and her creative work can be found at ESPN.com, ExhaleLifestyle.com, BannerBiz (Bay State Banner), and NPR.org/remembranceproject.
PHOTO: The author celebrating her mom’s 91st birthday on Oct. 15, 2015 in Sudbury, Massachusetts.