The Story Of A House- The Final Days

The walls in this place are starting to look rather bare. Most of the kids’ artwork has been taken down as have the pictures. There are stacks of boxes and scraps paper floating around and the mood is a bit grim. Ten years ago I moved us into this place thinking that it would be a starter home. Ten years ago I was flying high with a beautiful ten month old son and a career that was in high gear. I have vivid memories of standing in the backyard staring at the Koi pond and wondering if the fish would survive “Little Jack.”

It never dawned on me that a month later I’d watch people jumping from the towers while that beautiful boy of mine played with blocks. I am a writer a dreamer and an avid Tom Clancy reader but still I never thought about that stuff really happening. A few years later when we started raining bombs down on Baghdad I walked in the house and watched that kid race towards me on tiny legs and wondered what the world would look like when he got to be a little bit older. His great grandparents were born during WWI, grandparents during WWII and parents during Vietnam. Not that it matters.

I wander around the house and remember that first Thanksgiving here. He had five great grandparents who doted on him, four of them were my grandparents. I remember all four of them telling me how proud they were and how exciting it was. I remember my grandfathers talking to me about how I would begin to appreciate some things in a different way. I remember them telling stories and talking about what was and now I try not to think about what isn’t. Or maybe I should clarify that by saying, who isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful. I got to know my grandparents as a man, husband and father. We didn’t just chat, we talked. We shared thoughts, secrets and stories. Even though I carry them in my heart I feel like a piece of me has been removed and I have been crippled. They were are men that I loved and I made sure that they knew it. Though they aren’t here I still feel their presence and they will forever walk with me.

The children begged me tonight to cancel the move. They were both in tears over it and I had to look at them and tell them to accept it. Part of me was furious about having to do it and part was fine. Change is a part of life. There are more changes coming and some of them will very likely be hard.

+++++

The blogosphere is something that I discovered while living here. This blog and the others like it have helped me to chronicle and record our life here. I look through my stats and see that today people clicked onWounded By Words, The Right Words and A Jealous Man. Someone spent an hour reading Help Me.

I sit here at the kitchen table and stare out at the darkness and realize that the days of writing from this vantage point are rapidly coming to an end. I sit here and stare out at the darkness and think about how August 2011 will be the month that I remember for burying my grandfather, my sister’s wedding, moving and one hell of a family vacation.

I sit here at the table and think about what lessons I have learned and what to tell the kids. And all I come up with is more gratitude for what we have. There are changes, big changes facing all of us but I feel optimistic. Change is an opportunity and G-d willing this is the kind of opportunity that leads to something bigger and better.

+++++

The hotel we stayed at is on a hillside that overlooks the ocean. Catch the view at the right moment and it is stunning. Little Jack and I are playing Chess. I love playing with him. Love watching his mind work. His sister comes over and whispers in his ear. He waves her off and I smile. These two have their own club and parents aren’t invited. I love seeing this part of them, love knowing that they have a world that I am not a part of- warms my soul.

I am thirsty and in need of a drink so I decide to play aggressively. I look up and tell him that I am about to devastate his defense and he laughs. “You want a piece of me dad.” I nod and tell him that I don’t want a piece- I want chunks. He laughs again. Three moves later I am fighting for my life.

The kid suckered me. My son has fooled me and used a trick to gain the upper hand. I am so proud that my heart feels like it is going to burst- but I am competitive. I don’t want to lose. I look at him and remind him to always watch the angles. I begin to systematically take him apart. Knights, bishops and a rook are consumed as are a handful of pawns. The victory I sought arrives but not as easily as I had expected.

+++++

Alone in the dark I listen to Fleetwood Mac sing “Don’t Stop” and a wry smile crosses my face. It is time to get some shut eye. Tomorrow is already here and the kids will wake soon. We don’t have a choice about moving- but we can choose how we approach it. It is goofy, it is hokey and it is a cliche. I close my eyes and hear feel my grandfathers standing next to me. The echoes of the future are here and I can’t ignore them any longer.

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  • TheJackB

    @dad_or_alive Thank you.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @MoeDaniels I know that conversation and am having the same one with my kids. It is tough to go through and more than a little bit repetitive, but they don’t mean anything by it.

    I don’t tell them that I haven’t the foggiest idea when forever house is coming or not.

  • MoeDaniels

    Now that we’re in our “in between” house, we’re always having to tell our 5yo things like, “No, we won’t be going back to the house with the red door where your friends lived across the street” and “No, we can’t buy the brown house you liked so much, because someone else offered more money than we did” etc.

    I know it’ll stop eventually, when we buy again and move to our “forever” house; it’s just hard to find that place.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @ace1028 I feel very lucky. They were special people and we were blessed to have them.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @marianne.worley I can imagine that it had to be really hard to change schools in the middle of the year. I remember the kids that did it and how some of them really struggled.

  • ace1028

    Beautifully written. You are truly blessed to have known your grandparents in your adult life. I can only imagine the joyous memories that must bring.

  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    That is a lot of life change in one month. I love the way you tell it, though. You’re not a blogger; you’re a writer.

  • http://www.marianneworley.com/ marianne.worley

    @TheJackB Overall, it made me less social. I didn’t have problems when we moved during the summer and I started at a new school from the beginning of the year. It was changing in the middle of the year that was tough. I was always the “new kid”–the teacher would have to convince a popular kid to show me around and be my friend.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @Sandi Amorim I love that.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @marianne.worley 13 different schools? I seem to remember ginidietrich saying something similar. That is a lot of change. Did that you make you more social or less?

    • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

      I went to 13 grade schools, three junior highs, and two high schools. Like Marianne, I wasn’t very social (still am not – which drives Mr. D nuts). But boy did I learn how to make friends quickly. The only problem with that? I never learned how to sustain a relationship. Being married for nearly nine years is the longest relationship I have ever had.

  • http://www.marianneworley.com/ marianne.worley

    @TheJackB We moved a lot before I even started school. Sometimes, we moved to a different house in the same city. (I lived in 3 different houses during junior high, but still attended the same school.) But most of the time, we moved to different cities, so I did switch schools quite often. I just counted: I attended 13 different schools during my K-12 years. I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like had I only moved once or twice…

  • http://devacoaching.com/ Sandi Amorim

    @TheJackB Saw this recently and thought of your grandpa:

    ‎”Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven, where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” – Eskimo Legend

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @marianne.worley Twenty times? Did you switch school every time or was it just homes?

    My dad moved 13 times or so growing up so he was very careful to keep us in one place. Until I moved out I had only moved twice but was too young to remember it.

  • http://www.marianneworley.com/ marianne.worley

    I don’t know the exact number, but I moved at least 20 times by the time I was in high school. No, we weren’t a military family, things just changed–a lot. I suppose it made me stronger, but the best thing moving has taught me is that my stuff isn’t so important after all. When you have to pack something up and carry it somewhere, you realize what’s really important.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @JessicaNorthey Hi Jessica. Your well wishes are much appreciated as is the luck- can never have too much of that. :)

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @bdorman264 Hey Bill. Moving day is nigh, but I’d be happier if it was done already. I am ready to have this behind me and be able to do nothing but look ahead, but I suppose that we’ll get there. Just a matter of taking it day by day. Always good to see you here, hope you had a great weekend.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @SocialMediaDDS Hi Claudia,

    It is nice to see you here at the blog, welcome. I really appreciate your kind words. I haven’t written any books yet but I have plans to. I update this place daily,sometimes multiple times a day.

    If you are interested in fiction you can find a lot of mine at http://www.thejackb.com/category/fragments-of-fiction/

    Please feel free to stick around, comment and become a part of the community.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @ExpatDoctorMom Hi Rajka. I expect that things will work out because we’ll actively work on making that happen. But it is hard on the kids because this is all new to them and they don’t have the advantage of life experience to know how things work.

    Every day I have been talking to them about exactly what you mention, that family/home is wherever we are and not tied to a specific location.

    Hope you have had a great weekend.

    dannybrown

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @I’ve Become My Parents In theory change helps push people into recognizing or acknowledging what is going on around them. The question of how that manifests itself is a different story altogether.

    As for chess, well you are right. I can’t wait for him to be able to beat me.

  • JessicaNorthey

    ahhhh moving day. that is always bitter sweet! I wish you lots of luck and send you tons hugs and even more great wishes!! xoxxo

  • http://billdorman.wordpress.com/ bdorman264

    Moving day is here, huh? Well, I’m sure it has been a difficult time for you but sounds like you are packed up and it’s done. Sound like you have some challenges and opportunities facing you in the next few months and hopefully you will deftly maneuver them.

    Good luck buddy.

  • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com/ KDillabough

    @TheJackB You are a wise man, Jack. We grow through challenges, and this challenging time will, I’m sure, hold many lessons and memories down the road.

  • http://ParkRidgeDDS.com/ SocialMediaDDS

    Jack, I am relatively new to your site but with each visit, I am drawn in more and more. You are an extremely talented writer. I didn’t want today’s post to end. Your ability to maneuver the written word around a page is like watching an artist paint. Because I don’t know much about you, I don’t know if you ever speak to the possibilities of writing a book…or maybe you have…maybe I should have dug a little deeper before I dove into this comment. Suffice it to say, I can’t wait to hear more about your journey. I just wish I had the book in front of me right now….

    Claudia

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @Sandi Amorim Sandi, That is great. I am obviously biased about grandparents, but I think that it is wonderful that your grandfather still lives in his house.

    Those memories really are special- cherish them. And don’t forget to ask your grandfather questions because once he is gone, the answers are too.

  • http://expatdoctormom.com/ ExpatDoctorMom

    Dear Jack

    What to say soo touching! We too had to move this past December (2010) due to some very unusual circumstances… It is a long complicated story, only happens in the expat world and if I may borrow from dannybrown ‘s title of one of his most recent posts it was “Western Expats behaving badly” We had created a home in our former house and our son was devastated as he had his little community of boys he played with… It seemed like torture to then to make him endure the move.

    Now, I love our new environment as does our son and daughter.

    Best of luck in the move. Reminder that home is wherever your family is not the physical location. Or this is what I tell myself being an expat with no roots now…

    Best,Rajka

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @KDillabough Hi Kaarina. I see this time as being a sort of gift to my kids. It is a life lesson that I expect will teach them much about the world and provide them with tools/skills that they can apply elsewhere.

    I am a huge proponent of education in not just school but life. This will be one more thing that they can use. I expect one day that we’ll look back at this as being a transformative moment.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @psychicjazz Hi there. This blog is sort of my autobiography. It may not read in the traditional manner, but it serves the same purpose more or less.

    You are right about this being a journey. I am trying to be present and to find the happy places here.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

    @BetsyKCross Change can be hard for everyone but I think that when kids embrace it they do better than we do. I just remind mine that nothing truly significant has changed. They aren’t living on the streets, going hungry or roaming around unloved and uncared for.

    This is just one more life lesson. That core family group you mention is so very important.

  • I’ve Become My Parents

    A beautiful post that resonates with me on several levels. While consistency and predictability are attractive, I think they provide a false sense that security is provided by the physical stuff. Changes like this are, I believe, necessary on occasion to force us to reflect and recognize that the things that matter are staying with you regardless of where you move to.

    Thanks for that. And you’d best be practicing up on your chess; the days of the easy win are clearly numbered!

  • http://devacoaching.com/ Sandi Amorim

    Jack,

    This might be my favourite post yet. I too was fortunate to have 5 grandparents until my mid 20′s. At 48 I am left with one, my 90 yr old grandfather who’s been in the hospital this week after a fall. The family is trying to convince him to move to a home but he’s holding out. I find it hard to believe that he still lives in the home where he and my grandma raised a family, took in new immigrants and hosted so many, many gatherings and good times. He says he refuses to leave his memories.

    Thanks for once again reminding me how fortunate I’ve been in my relationship with my grandparents. I have a lifetime of memories to hold close to my heart.

  • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com/ KDillabough

    I wish you well on your journey, Jack. It will be full of hills and valleys, bumps and bruises…but it will be all yours, and your children will be the richer in spirit, experience and wisdom for it. Cheers! Kaarina

  • http://www.psychicjazz.com/ psychicjazz

    Hello Jack…I think there is an autobiography in the makings unless you have already started or completed one. I love reading your work. It is synchronistic and funny how you mention the song “Don’t Stop” as that is the very first song I remember playing in my mind as I started my spiritual journey. You are starting a new journey Jack. Embrace the experience as you have much to teach.

  • http://www.psychicjazz.com/ psychicjazz

    Hello Jack…I think there is an autobiography in the makings unless you have already started or completed one. I love reading your work. It is synchronistic and funny how you mention the song “Don’t Stop” as that is the very first song I remember playing in my mind as I started my spiritual journey. You are starting a new journey Jack. Embrace the experience as you have much to teach.

  • http://www.psychicjazz.com/ psychicjazz

    Hello Jack…I think there is an autobiography in the makings unless you have already started or completed one. I love reading your work. It is synchronistic and funny how you mention the song “Don’t Stop” as that is the very first song I remember playing in my mind as I started my spiritual journey. You are starting a new journey Jack. Embrace the experience as you have much to teach.

  • http://betsycross.blogspot.com/ BetsyKCross

    Jack,

    I love how kids are the first to tell it like it is, and let you know how they feel about it. They are also the most stubborn and inflexible when it comes to change when they don’t like it. I’ve seen them adapt and actually cherish memories MORE because of change. Mine have noticed how important their “core”family is. It stays constant through it all. For that I’m grateful. Nothing has broken us so badly that we aren’t united. I just love the memories that they share about certain neighborhoods and houses and say, “Really? You didn’t seem to like it THAT much!” Everything gets bigger and better once they can look back on it!

    Betsy