My parents are both in their early 80’s and are in the process of downsizing: moving from their house to a seniors’ apartment in town.
This has been a consideration of my mother’s for the last five years. My father has been less enthusiastic, opting not to talk about the subject. My father, you see, has always been a handyman, tinkering with any repairs needed inside and outside the house. In fact, he was the one who built our house. He installed the electrical wiring and took care of the plumbing. Despite the fact that his health is not as strong, one can see why he is reluctant to leave.
I grew up in that house. I am now 50.
This past weekend, they organized a lawn sale to get rid of some of their smaller items: ones they would not be taking with them to their new living quarters. I helped sell things.
Lawn sales are always melancholy affairs to me. There is a Paul McCartney song called Junk, one that he released on his first solo album shortly after the Beatles broke up. It best sums up my feelings about lawn sales in these two lines:
Bye, bye, says the junk in the shop window.
Why, why? says the junk in the yard.
For I believe that lawn sales are a coy attempt to tell us that we are moving on in life. In other words, we are aging. As my parents age, so do I.
On the hit television show, Roseanne, Roseanne says to her mother that she doesn’t like the fact that her mom has just turned 62. When her mom asks why, Roseanne tells her that as her mom ages, so does she and that her mom “keeps dragging her down with her.”
I looked at the objects in the lawn sale and measured my parents’ life and my life with their memories; with their established presence in our lives.
We all had fun. After all, lawn sales are social events in which we carry on conversations with both strangers and people we know.
However, it always hurt me when someone asked my dad, “So when you move, what are you going to do with your life?”
Dad answered as bravely and optimistically as he could but I kept wondering what was really going through his head.
Because when we make these huge transitions in life and one is retirement, which is not too far away for me, does everyone have the same question as I:
Am I now on that last journey towards death?
Aging is often hard to face.