You can’t go home again, but you can take it with you

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - LOR­RAINE SOMMERFELD www.lor­raineon­line.ca

“So, how’s it feel liv­ing on your own?” asked a neigh­bour.

“How would I know?” I replied. “I’ve had a man show up here every day at 8:30 in the morn­ing for six weeks.”

I see more of Jeff than his wife does, I swear. He is work­ing on the en­tire house at once. He writes metic­u­lous lists so he knows what is go­ing on, and I of­fer to help in ways that are not very help­ful.

He’ll let me pull painter’s tape some­times, and use a kid’s paint­brush to get at those lit­tle crevices where door jambs meet to smoosh some paint in there.

The trou­ble with paint­ing the dreaded beige over the “artis­tic” colours is that one missed spot stands out.

I’ve been sleep­ing in a dou­ble bed as the master bed­room gets worked on. It’s get­ting cramped; the cats look at me each night like, “we’re fine, but where are you gonna sleep?”

I’ve been shift­ing fur­ni­ture around as we go, and for­got I’d plunked a full-length mir­ror across from my bed. I woke up and scared the crap out of my­self.

I’m get­ting tripped up as I come across boxes and boxes of photos from the past, and as much I des­per­ately try to stow them for an­other time, I can’t help it. There is no end to the rev­e­la­tions you un­earth, and it takes dis­ci­pline (that I don’t have) to look away.

Chris­ter and Ari are re­ceiv­ing a con­stant stream of mes­sages ask­ing if I keep or toss this or that. When they vote to get rid of once loved toys, I head to Face­book and give it all away.

My niece has moved out of res­i­dence and into a house, and I am hap­pily bomb­ing my sis­ter with of­fers of shelves, dressers, dishes, ta­bles and chairs.

I have rooms so empty now, I could twirl around like Julie An­drews in “The Sound of Mu­sic” if twirling didn’t make me dizzy.

There’s been a steady stream of peo­ple in my now soli­tary life. A friend came and picked up a truck­load full of in­ter­lock­ing brick, with a promise to come back for pa­tio stones.

I send Jeff home each night with ran­dom finds left over from pre­vi­ous ren­o­va­tions, of­ten brand new tubes and coils and tubs of …. things. If I don’t know what they are, I highly doubt I’ll have a need for them.

But the best wrap­ping up is tak­ing place out­side, where Dad’s gar­den is blast­ing forth like it does every year. My mes­sage was sim­ple: if you want some of Dad’s plants, show up with some pots and start dig­ging.

I al­ready have shov­els; I have many, many shov­els be­cause Dad be­lieved you could never have too many. There is also an odd ar­ray of axes, so use­ful here in the city.

I have hun­dreds of hostas, and his beloved tiger lilies are run­ning rampant. April is the month to trans­plant, and my friends and col­leagues have taken full ad­van­tage, to my de­light.

A wise woman once told me peren­ni­als are just weeds that some­one de­cided to love, and to see th­ese peren­ni­als go into so many other gar­dens makes me happy.

Many said they feel like they know my dad af­ter all th­ese years, and he’d be thrilled to know his gar­den lives on in their yards as much as he lives on in my words.

I have a vested in­ter­est in giv­ing away th­ese plants, th­ese lega­cies. When­ever I’m set­tled, and wher­ever that hap­pens to be, I’m show­ing up to th­ese many friends’ yards to take back cut­tings and start over again.

I’ll bring my own shovel.

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