Friday, March 10, 2017

A Truck Full of Love

Some years ago, I spent the better part of a week cleaning out the home in which my parents had spent the better part of their lives. They had raised three kids, created deep friendships with neighbors and become part of a community that grew from sleepy village to upscale suburb. Age and infirmity led them to sell the two-story colonial my dad affectionately called "Sixty-Three Park Road" and buy a town home. Once they had moved, it was up to my brother and I to sort, to discard and to say the final good byes.

I had finished my part, and stood in the back yard for one last look around. We'd played football there, and I'd broken my arm twice in mishaps. We'd had a hockey rink, and a pool. A maple tree split, and we used the sap to make syrup...which is another story. My dad and I built a deck - the forth or fifth - that finally stood the test of time.

Across the street, there is an elementary school. As I stood, in tears, I could hear the sound of children playing. Laughing, screaming, calling out to each other. It seemed an echo from many years ago, of the accumulated spirits of the love that had occupied every corner of the big house on Park Road.

I felt that again as we said good bye to the house where my wife grew up. With the passing of her father several months ago, she and her siblings, their spouses and children, and our family, had undertaken the daunting task of brushing aside a lifetime of memories, and passing on the structure to someone else.

One afternoon, we stared at a table full of knickknacks. You know - the salt shaker passed at countless family dinners. The dish that had contained mother Jean's special fruit salad. Cups, knives... No one wanted to part with them, but at the same time we all had our own totems, talismans with which we have marked the memorable events of our own lives. We let them go.

Today, we finished the physical task. I stood on the front lawn, and listened.

I heard laughter. Easter, twenty-five years ago, my new in-laws (of two days) had welcomed me, my daughters and my parents into their family. We were embraced by the numerous Carters with their traditional holiday ritual - a squirt gun fight. I'd watched dozens of baseball games on the TV with my mom-in-law, and picked her up there for dozens more. We'd (sons, daughters, husbands and wives) bricked in a corner of the side yard, planted bushes... We watched as our kids, and then our grand kids, grew up far too quickly.

We got into our truck, and drove away. That's what you do. But, we took all of the love we could fit in our hearts with us.


  1. So beautiful, Jim. My mom still lives in my childhood home. I don't want to think of the time when she... doesn't.

  2. Thank you! And... Don't. Every day is a gift.