Driving by Dad's house, which is automatic after years of checking on him three or four times a day, is making my heart hurt.
Even though it probably would have solved a lot of problems just to sell the house, I couldn't bring myself to it. I spent 50 years there and all of my memories of mom and dad are wrapped up into every nook and cranny.
We found a lady who was willing to rent it and was more than happy to paint and clean. When we met her there to talk about the agreement, I couldn't help from taking her on a tour, through every room, a run down a memory lane I'm sure she cared nothing about.
The walls in my old bedroom were still pink with a flowered border running across the top.
That bedroom gave me endless hours of happiness growing up and months of sorrow when I returned to sleep in my old room while caring for mom. I knew every spot on the ceiling, every dent in the wall.
My secret codes were still written inside the closet, which no one knew about but me.
Most all of the walls in the house had been wallpapered, several times, as Mom loved to change it up every couple of years. The problem being, she never removed the old, so there had to be at least five layers of wallpaper that wasn't going to come off.
Mom was an artist and had several places in the house where she showed off her handiwork. Stenciled flowers and her version of faux painting covered the cabinets and trim in the dining room.
A couple weeks after coming to an agreement, I had to go by Dad's house to drop off some things for the renter. She had painted the walls, and although it looked a hundred times better, it felt like my memories were being erased as the old house was getting new life.
My pink walls are now blue, mom's stenciling has been painted over and my secret codes in the closet are gone.
I'm relieved the house isn't sitting empty, but at the same time it's hard to come to terms with the fact it will never be the same. I drive by every so often and instantly recognize any little change that's been done. New chairs on the front porch, wind chimes and a car parked in the driveway that doesn't belong to my parents.
I wonder if Dad's Easter lilies have come up in the backyard. He loved picking them and sending a bouquet to work with me. Is his martin house full of birds?
The renter has settled in, and now, a month later, even though I know her stuff is in Dad's house, I have the urge to stop by. Miranda Lambert sings a song that says it best:
Page 2 of 2 - "If I could just come in, I swear I'll leave, won't take nothing but a memory from the house that built me."
Sandy Turner lives in the Kansas City area and writes this column for GateHouse Media.