Someone once figured out that maybe grief best be dealt with in stages. When you lose someone, there's shock, immediate sadness, and upheaval. Throw in some disbelief, denial, and just general turmoil, and those who are grieving have their world turned upside down. Within a few months, acceptance starts to set in, and coping, while it will never be easy, becomes less difficult.
My Uncle Marty passed away in January, but this weekend, there was a small ceremony to unveil his headstone. It was informal, and only took a few minutes, but waiting just over six months to do it made all the difference in the world. There were some tears shed but also some laughs. That happens at a memorial service too, but thoughts, both happy and sad, seem to flow a little easier.
The wait may have been a little longer, but Uncle Marty's wishes were that his house be sold. He, not too long ago, told me this story about a neighbor who passed away, and had two kids. One got the house, and the other got money and everything else. That situation resulted in nothing but problems, so it was insisted that the house in Burbank, that Uncle Marty and Aunt Judy bought in 1969, be sold. That happened, and the new owners will be moving in just a little more than a week.
More so for my cousins of course, but for me too, that meant another goodbye. The house was in the family for 48 years. There were weddings there! Thanksgivings, pool parties, climbing on the roof to see the fireworks on the Fourth of July. All of it. For me, meeting there to go to Dodger or Laker games, and even, when I was little, being dropped off there to be babysat, while Mom, Dad, Aunt Judy, and Uncle Marty went to a show or something.
It's funny to think about it this way, and I never really thought of it like this before, but that house wasn't a meeting place, it was like several at one time. A Thanksgiving would be a great example. There would be a group gathered around the TV watching the game (or the Twilight Zone marathon on Channel 5). Lots of people would be in the kitchen working on the dinner. After saying hello to everyone, you'd probably settle at the bar, and if you looked around and couldn't see the kids, they were probably upstairs playing pool. One big gathering could be a bunch of little gatherings simultaneously.
Just over a month ago, the house was on the market, and some things started to be cleared out. This weekend, the final pictures were being taken down off the walls, cabinets and other items were going to the homes of various family members, and other rooms were completely empty. Another sign that things have changed, and another thing to come to grips with.
A new family is moving in—a couple with one small child. They even wrote my cousins and told them how much they loved the house, and how they appreciated that it stayed in the family for close to 50 years. No major changes planned, either, which I know all of us are happy about.
You can argue that it's just a house, but when it's your house (or in my case, something you really can't remember being without), it's difficult. Change is rarely easy, and we all know that. It's what Uncle Marty wanted, and (while I'm starting to feel like I'm speaking for my cousins here) something we understand and respect, and frankly, is probably necessary.
To each one, including the grandchildren, the house will have different memories, or in the future will become synonymous with a key part of their life. That memory, or significance, whatever it may be, will certainly be followed by a smile. The gathering place in Burbank isn't available anymore, but maybe the new owners will invite us over for the Fourth of July. Here's to them making 50 years of memories of their own.
'Perfect' circle: The night before the unveiling on Sunday, many of the family went to a Dodger game. It was Sandy Koufax Commemorative Coin Night, marking his perfect game in 1965. Uncle Marty, and at least two of my cousins (Korey and Andy) attended that game. No perfect game the other night, but the Dodgers won. Again.
Spiritual music?: Driving back to Marysville today, I turned on my music, and out of my random list of 500 songs, the first song that played was Our House, by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Very fitting for the weekend, a nice dedication to my cousins, and also one of my uncle's favorites. The next song that played was Dimensions—written and performed by Uncle Marty's granddaughter Taryn. If I had the Twilight Zone theme in there, it would likely have been next.
Not much to add here. My cousins had a lot of words to choose from with little space,
but couldn't have come up with a better description. Even got the animals in there.
Mom getting one good look while talking to her brother's oldest grandson Payton. It's
worth mentioning one more time--no one could have had a better life than my uncle did.
Gayle playing the final pool game in the Rumpus Room. (For the record, Andy beat her).
The table is staying with the new owners, but we all got to keep a ball (I have #12)
Andy, Diane, Korey, and Gayle during their final day together in the house they grew up in.
(I took this picture--all the others were lifted from Korey's Facebook page. Thanks Korey!)