In 1953, my family moved into the house in Torrance. I was 4. After my parents divorced in the 1970s, my mother continued to live there. Last February she had to move into assisted living after two very stressful years (for both her and my sister) living alone after becoming disabled. My sister, with some help from my brother, spent the spring inventorying and boxing possessions. I’ve been out here for the past 10 days helping with the final sort. My mother worked in pottery and ceramics, and there were a couple hundred pieces in the house. We “kids” took a lot of the stuff, the rest is going into an estate sale. This was my last night in the house. Today I’m flying home and the estate sale person takes over, to be followed by the real estate agent. I have not lived in the house since 1970, but this still feels like “home” even though there has been no comfortable place for me on visits for a long time as my mother spread out and occupied all the rooms of this five-bedroom house. But it was a touchstone, a point of reference. In the future when I visit, I’ll have to stay with my father or brother or sister — the old place won’t be there. It’s a strange feeling.
Mom is doing better with the move, by the way. She made the decision to move after a health crisis last December and has made up her mind to look forward, not back. For the first few months she was pretty depressed and demoralized in the new place due to a variety of adjustment problems, but since finally getting her mobility scooter as well as a better doctor who actually talked to her and adjusted her medications (!) and told her to get a case manager to deal with bureaucracies, her depression has lifted. She says food tastes better, she’s gaining weight and making friends. Once again she is chatting up a blue storm to anybody who will listen about all her years of international travels and genealogy researches. As we cleared the house, we moved a shelf full of her smaller pottery plus her plates and prints that can be hung on her walls so her artistic side can be visible in her new space. It wasn’t until her depression lifted that it even occurred to her that she could make her environment less bleak.
On the sociology side, the person doing the estate sale runs a turnkey business: she helps seniors find assisted living facilities, moves them into them, then cleans the house and goes through all the stuff to clean it up and display it for the estate sale, then connects with charities that will pick up what did not sell and empty out the house. You can see that this business is in a growth industry. The real estate agents were very interested — they have other clients who need this service.