A title for this post didn’t come to mind right away. There’s so much inside my head that I’m not sure where to being. What I do know is that what I’m facing has been and will be faced by many others. If there’s one thing I’ve learn in my 61 ½ years of life it’s that there is nothing I’m experiencing that hasn’t been experienced by someone, sometime, somewhere.
Most of you will already know from either social media or my embroidery websites that my mother died on May 15, 2017. It was completely unexpected. I’d gone home to help out and give my brother and his family as well as my father a bit of a break. I was home exactly 4 weeks before she died. They were the most intense weeks of my life, the loneliest weeks of my life and the most rewarding weeks of my life.
During the first week I started preparing home cooked meals to take to the hospital, tempting her to eat (she just couldn’t – nothing tasted right any more). At the end of the first week, my father and I met with a contractor to see about getting the bathrooms in the family home redesigned so Mom could use them with her walker until she improved (there was no one to do the work in all of the area for at least 6 months – that was a deal breaker). He wanted her to be able to come home when she was released from the hospital.
The second week my father, brother and his wife and myself looked at apartments in a beautiful retirement community. Because Dad loved Mom so much, and knew she’d been wanting to move there for a while, and because it met their needs, he bought a brand new apartment Wednesday of the second week. Mom would have a brand new home.
Monday of the third week we moved all their things into their new home. I made a floor plan so she could help work out where to put the furniture. It would be arranged just like their old home, with all the familiar furniture and things Mom and Dad had collected and loved during their 62 years old marriage.
Monday of the forth week Mom died. Her funeral was on Saturday of the fourth week.
I still miss her every day. All the time. Especially when I’m doing something creative. She was my cheerleader and my first teacher. She taught me to make a home someplace we would want to be. A place where we could live, cook, create, and love one another.
After Mom died, my brother and families all gathered and we started to clean out the remaining things in their old home. We found things that belonged to my great grandparents, including some truly extraordinary photographs! We found love letters and a list of where pieces of furniture had been purchased. We found a letter from Leopold Stickley discussing the refinishing of the huge, round Stickley table that has always been in the family home. We found our heritage in the home full of things our family had chosen to keep for generations. It was wonderful.
At the end of my time in Iowa, as my husband and I were flying back to Berlin, we talked about what would happen to the Prairie style home my grandparents had built. It’s a stunning house, sitting on 2 ½ acres of oak woodland. There is a living room in the lower level – which opens out into the back garden over looking the woods, that would make a perfect embroidery/teaching studio. There are 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a full kitchen upstairs and a small galley kitchen perfect for making tea, coffee and lunch downstairs when I have classes. (I was beginning to think of the future… a good sign when you’re grieving)
Shortly after we returned to Berlin, we found out my older daughter and her husband are expecting our first grandchild at the end of January. And my younger daughter just got married. Four bedrooms are looking like a VERY good idea!
Did I mention that my father’s new home is only a 5 minute drive from his old home? And my older daughter and her husband live only 3 ½ hours away? And my younger daughter and her husband live in California – only two time zones away?
For the last twenty years I’ve traveled the world, making my home wherever I was teaching. Steve and I have loved our time living as expatriates. Mom and Dad have visited us wherever we lived and always supported my travels around the world. Mom loved telling people where I was living and what I was doing. I was her adventurous daughter. But she was always so happy to have me come home.
Steve and I have decided that now, and for the rest of our lives, home is in Iowa, in the family home, close to family, carrying on the tradition of the same family living in the same house for three generations. We’ll be moving back at the beginning of February, 2018. I can’t wait!
Somehow I think Mom’s looking down and saying to me “Welcome home.”