The Family Auction

Over the weekend my grandpa’s belongings were sold at auction. He passed away somewhat suddenly in February, about a month after receiving a lung cancer diagnosis, going from his energetic and peppy self to a bedridden man in a matter of weeks. He passed away in his home, the one he and my grandma designed and built, surrounded by loved ones. We saw him take his last breath and watched a great soul leave this earth. Buried on Valentine’s Day. A day I never liked anyway.

Age 17

I’ve had a rough time trying to cope and wrap my mind around all of this, especially since I hadn’t gone back to say goodbye but to try to find help. Not admitting to myself that one of the men I most admire and love would be gone. Greg also felt a strong connection and bond, two guys with like minds, and often thinks of him. An influential thinker and stinker. Ornery, ornery man. Greg reminds me of him.

When we moved into this first house of ours last December, I imagined my grandparents pulling up in an RV, parking in the two gravel spots alongside the drive. Us discussing the plans we have for the house and sharing what we do and where we are in our new lives 600 miles from them. My grandpa a wise, travel enthusiast. Then everything changed. I still think about that when I look at those parking spots. That and the video house tour I made a few weeks after the diagnosis-having to do several takes because I’d begin to cry and I didn’t want my grandparents to see that being, what I wanted, a message of hope, to fight and thrive. A show of support from far away. How I wanted them to have more of a connection to where we live and our daily lives since moving away from most family 4 years ago. A pang of regret and hurt on that subject in me. Although I find comfort in asking him what we should do with the house and imagine him watching/listening, always giving his support from afar, his common spirit in designing and building as he did with their house. When we started working on the backyard I found a marble, which I took as a nod from grandpa saying he is here, since we played the marble game aggravation together, a rivalry, pact and bond that couldn’t separate us.

Greg and I were unable to go back home near Ft. Wayne, Indiana for the auction. It was a difficult weekend thinking about those pieces of my grandpa’s life going to someone else. His farm equipment, his machinery, his hobbies-my grandpa ever the tinkerer and engineer, creating tools and objects that would benefit all of humankind if they had been available to the public. A fun spirit, friend to all and charismatic to the max. I am relieved for my grandma who has been stressed about the auction and organization of the household. She has peace of mind now and for that, we’re grateful.

I couldn’t help thinking about how, to an extent, that’s what Greg and I do, gather pieces once owned by someone who has passed or no longer needs it, someone with a life full of stories. We try to show as much respect for these pieces and this house by caring for them, salvaging the items and rooms so that they can continue a legacy, both ours and of owners past. Someone who may have loved or loved to despise that object-an object perhaps turned into something of comfort and fondness although disliked.

I hope those that purchased the objects that surrounded my grandpa for so many years appreciate and care for them, obtaining use while sustaining and honoring. Like my grandpa cared for them. My parents kindly picked up my grandpa’s lathe for Greg and I to use someday. We are so happy to have it for both our business and hobbies.

When we go back for Christmas and stay with my grandma, I’m sure we’ll feel the absence from one of the few places on earth I consider my happiest place. I can’t imagine how she copes after 61 years of marriage.

Greg playing pool with grandpa

That said, it could be the last Christmas at the house because grandma could be moving to a place with less upkeep. I knew this might happen and again, I want what is best for grandma. For months I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep the house in the family. To not be able to drive down that long lane, to not be welcome in the house and on the property is unfathomable and would inflict a pain I just don’t want to experience. Imagining another family changing something sends me into a tizzy.

Then again, that’s what happens. That’s what we’ve done. It’s with that thought I start to give and accept the idea but only if it goes to a wonderful, deserving family who will maintain every bit of it. A family that might change the space but keep the integrity so that it can house many deserving families well into the future. Safe and sound. Maybe one day I could go near the area and smile with only purely pleasant thoughts. But I don’t imagine that for some time if ever.

I’ve visited and lived in that house for a period of my young life. Everything happy is there. That’s where I was surrounded by family-aunts, uncles, cousins, great-aunts/uncles during weekly gatherings, some conflicts but always love. That’s where the family videos were made and so many memories come from. Bittersweet today.

Me, age 2, at grandma and grandpas

I’ve tried to figure out how to purchase the house. Frantic and serious. Hoping it lands in the family. Of course it would be a stretch and we are not able to do that and won’t be when it comes time. But oh, how I wish.

Have you experienced this?

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