Today’s guest post comes from Steve Grooms.
After living 38 years in my Saint Paul bungalow, I decided to move closer to my family.
I spent half a year last winter and spring preparing my home for sale. The job would have been impossible without the help of several people who contribute to this blog site. They helped clean and paint my home. They loaded decades of junk in a pickup and took it to the dump. And they boxed up a few precious things so I could ship them to Portland.
We finally ran out of time. There was still work to be done when my friends said goodbye the last time and turned their attention toward their own homes, their own families and activities for Memorial Day.
That’s when things fell apart for me. The folks who would run the estate sale wanted me out of the home so they could organize the sale. I still needed to box up more stuff and ship most of it to Portland. And I needed to fill my station wagon with a few things I’d drive to my new home.
When my home hit the real estate market I had to keep leaving while groups of potential buyers toured it. Seven groups came through the first day the home was listed for sale. I sat in my station wagon from a discrete spot up the block, waiting for them to leave so I could go back to packing.
I expected it would take from four to six weeks to sell my home. But 30 hours after going on sale I had two parties offering to pay more than my asking price for the home.
That was wonderful, but it meant that instead of having many weeks to pack and leave I had two days! That would have been difficult for someone young and fit. For a senior citizen with health issues the overnight sale of my home created a crisis. On my last day I limped with boxes of stuff between home and my car in a thunderstorm. It was one of the worst days of my life.
Many things I meant to take to Oregon never got packed because I ran out of time. I didn’t realize how severe my losses were until I got to Portland and discovered how many useful or beloved things had failed to make the trip. The box of precious family photos ended up in a landfill in Minnesota. I forgot to bring my warm coat. My favorite Christmas memorabilia didn’t show up after the move. Molly, my daughter, grieved the loss of the Christmas box, although she understood I had left Minnesota in near panic.
Last Thursday Molly and Liam came over to my new apartment. I mentioned that there was one last box I hadn’t opened after the move. Parked on a high shelf, it was too heavy for me to bring down. From its weight, I guessed the box held books.
Liam and I were in the living room when Molly called to me in a strangled voice. I rushed to the bedroom. The mystery box was on the bed, flaps open. Molly was holding a Lunds shopping bag that had been packed in May by one of my baboon friends, probably Linda or Barbara. That bag held our old family Christmas stockings. Tears streamed down Molly’s cheeks. She wasn’t able to talk.
The red stocking was made for me by my dad in 1956 when we lived in Iowa. A plump green fish swims near the top of the stocking and exhales a bright spray of sequin bubbles. My name is written below, the letter shaped from red and white pipe cleaners.
My erstwife’s childhood blue stocking was there too. Kathe’s mother sewed this stocking by hand when the family still lived in New York City. She decorated it with a reindeer fawn, a Christmas tree and a little girl dressed for Swedish folk dancing. Stitched letters proclaim “Merry Christmas Kathe Ann.”
While my former wife was not artistic or crafty, she had a gift for making charming Christmas stockings. There in the Lunds bag was the stocking she made for Molly in 1983. The white stocking sparkles with sequins and carries several iconic Christmas objects: a teddy bear, a dancing girl and a goofy jack-in-the-box. At the bottom of the stocking a six-year-old girl sleeps lies in her bed, her arm thrown over an orange kitten. The little girl is, of course, Molly. We gave the kitten to Molly just before Christmas.
When Molly first saw the exuberant kitten, she said, “Wow, that’s one froshus cat!” And that is how Froshus got his name.
When she finally could speak through her tears, Molly said, “Nothing else matters. The other stuff you lost doesn’t matter. I didn’t want you to know that it broke my heart to think we’d lost these. And here they are.” The old stockings now hang on Molly’s hearth, waiting to be filled by Santa.
Merry Christmas, baboons.
What precious object would you dread to lose?