Looking out onto Kempenfelt Bay, you would never know anything had changed. The waters were calm. No Serendipity – the local tourist paddle-boat – yet, but other than that it looked just the same as it did a year ago.
I turned to my oldest son, Ben, and took a deep breath. It was time to leave apartment 1001.
They say your life flashes before you just before you leave this earth – snippits of my life with my family flashed before me as I walked through the patio to the dining room where we were always so careful that Dad did not lose his footing while climbing over the step to return to his pink chair after enjoying the night air. It was a ritual almost – Mom would cling onto his belt buckle (as if she could hold him should he fall) and I would hold on to his walker to secure it from moving forward un-expectantly.
I walked past where the dining-room table was – where so many meals were served. Here too, was the place where toasts were made to life, anniversaries, birthdays, births… even commemorations of deaths. But I heard joy in the voices in my head – I remember the good times, the laughter, and the oh, so delicious food Mom had so lovingly prepared.
I walked past where Dads pink chair had once been – where David climbed onto the walker in front of Dad so that he could be so much better positioned to hop on Poppas lap and give him a hug. The pink chair was the focus – the inhabitant (my Dad) was always the centre of attention. Was he warm enough? Was he hungry? Was he able to hear the conversation? Did he tune us out to read?
I walked past the couch – where we had danced. I watched my daughter, Katya, twirl and spin and laugh. I heard David giggle with delight as Nana ordered a steak and baked potato from his make-believe restaurant. I knew she hoped that his culinary interest would continue and be her own little legacy. I saw Katya standing there, dressed in Nanas black lace dress – hand-made so many years ago. No one but Katya could fit into that waist line anymore… but three generations had worn that dress – and Katya was the last of the lineage…
I walked down the hallway to peer into Moms room as Dad had so many times before. Was Paula there? Was she asleep? Was she ironing or sewing? The room was empty – and full all at the same time. I thought if I looked quickly I could see her smiling at me as she was waking up from a quick afternoon rest… rarely did that happen, but it always seemed to comfort me that she could rest.
I walked down the hall to Dads room – the room where it had all ended — I expected to see him there. But, alas, neither bed, nor Poppa were to be seen. Ben heard me and came to see if I was okay – my 6 foot son put his arm around me and we both stood there knowing how happy Nana and Poppa would be that he grew up to be such a fine, young man. You done good, kid, I heard my Dad say. And with that, my son Ben and I turned around and left. Buenos noches, Poppa – hasta manana – TTFN. Sleep well. I love you both!
It was odd, locking the door for the last time. I did not cry. They were not there. I did not feel compelled to open the door quickly to check to see if I could sneak a peek. Bill and Paula had definitely left the building.
And so it was that today was our last glimpse of what was once a very happy household. It was now my turn to provide that stability, comfort, and sense of belonging in my own home. I always said to my parents that my home had been wherever they were – now it is with my family and I. Apartment 1001 is now us.. my husband, three children, and I.