My mother is going home today.
She's been in-hospital, and then in rehab, for the last 3 weeks. Her situation is much improved, but it's really just the next stage in the long journey. Chronic, progressive diseases generally only end one way.
Home is a 1950s Cape at 31 Forest Street, Saugus MA (01906). I'll pause for a second while you look up Google Street View.
It's 2016 - that house was built for my grandparents in about 1954 when they moved out of East Boston. My mum was 12 at the time. It's been in the family ever since. I'm sure I was there before I was a week old.
During my entire childhood, it was our center - grandma had a pool, and a big yard to play in, and built in daycare every summer while we were kids. I spent my first dozen birthdays in that pool, and my brother did too. Any significant family reunion happened in that yard, and the small hill behind the house became our own private forest wonderland.
We built forts up there with the next door neighbor's kids, spent nights out in the woods, and did all those things that growing boys should do, all under the watchful eye of grandma and grandpa.
I was sitting in that house at the dining room table when my mother came back from the hospital to tell us grandpa had died.
Three years later, the upstairs bedroom that she had spent the last 42 years in became my grandmother's deathbed.
We've scattered to the four winds - my own childhood home in Saugus was sold in 1989. My brother lives in Lynn now, and most of my friends have moved out of town, too.
This house is my last physical link to my ancestral homeland - the only remaining tie to my youth and the essence of my elders.
Given my mother's condition, she can't stay in the house long-term anymore...and her sister is not many years younger than her and is spending increasing time at our other family holding in West Palm Beach, Florida.
We simply can't maintain the house anymore. Neither my brother or I can afford to buy it, so it must go on the market this winter so we may do what is necessary.
It's only a house, right?