WellesleyWeston Magazine

WINTER 2015-2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/596643

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Page 209 of 211

208 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | w i n t e r 2 0 1 5 / 2 0 1 6 when the Navy decommissions a ship, there is a cere- mony honoring the vessel's years of service. Bells are rung; flags are hauled down, carefully folded, and put away. When it comes to the back-breaking work clearing out a beloved family home, however, there is no such custom. There are no benedic- tions whispered in dusty rooms filled with tied-off Hefty bags, and the only "ceremony" to mark the event is when the dis- posal truck comes to haul away the full-to-the-brim dumpster. My in-laws built their house in the early 1960s from blue- prints they saw advertised in a magazine. "I watched every nail go into that house," my mother-in-law proudly said. They had a good life there. Bridge with the neighbors most weekends. Impromptu pool parties anytime the temperature crested 80 degrees. A daughter's wedding in the backyard. Grandkids learning to ride two-wheelers on the long, flat driveway. Legendary holiday parties. But the time came when the two broad and gracious steps that led to the sunken living room began to pose a risk for my aging father-in-law, weakened by Parkinson's. He would wear his deter- mination on his face as he teetered on the first step before steady- ing himself and continuing, triumphant, to the second. When the teetering turned into falling, even my reluctant mother-in- law agreed it was time to sell the Connecticut house and take up permanent residence in their Florida vacation home. My father-in-law was ready to call in the auctioneers and junk haulers and empty the house in a day. But my mother-in- law weighed the fate of each item with painstaking considera- tion. Who should have the silver-rimmed crystal jelly jars, the antique dolls, the bridge table, the linen tablecloths, the Paul Revere bowls in various sizes and grades of silver, her mother's fragile crystal stemware, the Steiff stuffed animals collected on trips abroad and loved by her children and grandchildren? Every time I shake my head "no" and tell her that I simply don't have the room, I can see the hurt in her eyes — as though I'm not rejecting just the item, but an entire lifetime of memories. It is a hurt I see multiplied as other family members do the same. When she breaks down in tears, as she does often, I wait patiently as she collects herself and we begin the process again. The doll-sized china tea service that had been hers as a child gets relegated to Goodwill. The dozens of collectible Swedish plates celebrating "Mars Day" and "Fars Day?" Look for them on eBay. Diplomas? Plaques? Patents? Awards? Most went into the trash. But not the book of poems her mother read to her as a child, and the more than fifty volumes of fam- ily photographs. There are some decisions she simply can't bring herself to make. While my in-laws were quick to settle comfortably in their single-story Naples home, I remain haunted by memories of that weekend, and shop differently now that I've seen the full life cycle of one's possessions. That's not to say I don't occasionally indulge — sometimes a girl just needs that antique Spode plat- ter to display on the mantelpiece. But I hold no illusions that my treasures will one day be treasured by anyone else. narrative capturing a moment suburban sketches creative expressions your voice painting a portrait reflections De-Feathering the Nest S H A R O N J O H N S O N writer last but not least Be Creative This page is designed to give our readers the opportu- nity to express themselves creatively. If you have a short piece of fic- tion or nonfiction (300-500 words), a poem, illustration, or photograph depicting life in Wellesley and Weston, we would love to hear from you. Please email your submissions to jill@wellesleywestonmagazine.com.

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