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Closing a House in the Heartland

February 24, 2016


Closing a House in the Heartland


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



How do two daughters

close a house–

not just a house–

our home, blessed Blanford home,

where our parents lived

most of their nearly 55 years together,

where Mary and I grew and graduated,

and where our extended family celebrated life?


“We have to go to Blanford

and close the house.”

“Yes, we sold the house.”


Words from seventeen years ago

make me wonder how we did close that house.

My parents’ bedroom furniture went to Colorado;

Mary and my bedroom suit from younger days came to Milwaukee.

Two sets of dishes and an old Underwood typewriter went to my sister;

the grandfather clock and piano came to me.

My townhouse welcomed the French provincial sofa and chair,

the book shelves and dining room table.

How I remember the seemingly never-ending

boxing of books and photo albums.

Then, decorated primarily in cardboard boxes,

the house seemed so sadly empty.

I had never seen our home

in such a state–so raw, so bare.


Why did we leave the cedar chest

for the new owners?

I can still smell that soothing scent

from that huge hope chest.

Why did we leave

the corner china cabinet?

Why did we leave the views from all those windows?

Why did we walk away from that front porch?

How could we leave those maple trees,

the sweet peas climbing over the fence,

the field and woods

and white-rock driveway,

violets by the water pump,

irises and lilies-of-the-valley,

my father’s gardens,

and the places

where my parents’ footprints

and heartprints

still nurture

a home, sweet home?


Changes and new chapters

lead us to other channels of life,

but we are so often riding

on those roads of reminiscences.


How blessed we are

that the family who now lives there

takes such good care of

our home.

When my sister and I return

to visit Indiana,

she drives by our home in the Heartland

again and again, enough times for us

to be considered stalkers of the past.

“How tall is the blue spruce now?

Is the swing still on the porch?”

I ask my sister;

then, she takes the scenic route and drives

past memories again.


One may close a house,

but one never closes

a home

in the Heartland.



With thanks to you

for riding along with me on The Road of Reminiscences via my Wordwalk blog,

Alice and Zoe


February 24, 2016, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Fran Rayce permalink

    How well you have captured that heartbreaking feeling that leaving a special place brings to each of us. It somehow feels so disloyal and disrespectful yet it is a task that must be undertaken. I can see that driveway and picture the familiar flowers. How you were shaped by that loving home is something that nothing’s nag can erase. That’s the best part. Beautiful captured memories once again, Alice!

    • Fran–I am touched by your comment and appreciate your thoughtful addition to my post. Hoping you aren’t getting too much snow! Take care–Alice

  2. Alice. I have often written about how a home, a family, gives strength, passion and love to any structure that is lucky enough to wrap itself around the hopes and dreams of a family. No matter where my parents or siblings live, when I go to visit them, I am going home. There’s no better feeling in the world, and I hope your memories lift you up through a lifetime of cherished moments.
    Great post! dp

    • Deon–Thank you for your up-lifting comment. Hoping that all is well in Maine today–Alice

  3. Alice this really touched my heart. It is so well done. Within a 2-year period, my Mother, younger brother, and two aunts died. Bob and I and our girls cleaned out three of those houses – and not only is it so much physical labor, it is the emotional weight of loss that hits the hardest. I have written some poems about some of the deaths and the aftermath, the shifting of the terrain of our entire life. This brought all my own experiences and thoughts back so strongly to me. Thank you! Lynda

    • Lynda–Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Your phrase “shifting of the terrain” is an expressive way of describing the situation. Take care! Blessings–Alice

  4. Dear Alice,
    This poem brings tears to my eyes and longing to my heart. Truthfully, I don’t know how we did what we did! We were in a state of shock after the sudden loss of our beloved dad and the realization that mother could no longer live in their home and we could not give our home the necessary care from many miles away. Somehow we divided and packed so many treasures and opened the doors for another family to be happy there. Thank you for being the keeper of years of precious memories and for sharing them so beautifully in your writing.
    Love, Mary

  5. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice — When I read this last week, I was too rushed to comment, but I have been thinking about it all week. Like yours, my parents never moved from the house they built while we were growing up. After my father’s death, my mother moved in with us. Luckily for the family, my sister and her husband bought the family place, so for now, it is still in the family. Your descriptions of the lilies of the valley, irises, etc. made me so hungry for spring, and as a person who loves growing things, I know when I have to leave this home, the flowers will be the hardest of our things to leave behind.
    Thanks for sharing–Sue

  6. Yes, I remember that sad day very well. The monumental task of moving and leaving behind is very hard for most, but you and Mary have wonderful memories to cherish from the past and comfort from the present.

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