Our lives are full of beginnings and endings…life, careers, relationships, creative endeavors, homes, routines, cities, the list goes on. Whether they are happy, sad or bittersweet, beginnings and endings and the transitions that come with them are an inevitable part of being human.
I have recently been navigating my way through an ending behind the scenes of this blog.
On the weekend of my own move back in early October, my grandmother told me that she was ready to give up her house and had scheduled a meeting with a real estate agent for the next day. Everything moved faster than we ever could have imagined. They met with the agent on Sunday, listed the house Monday, had multiple offers by Wednesday and the house was under contract by Thursday. We were all reeling by how quickly it all happened. We thought it would take 6-12 months for the house to sell and that there would be one last holiday season. Maybe it was better this way.
It was a lot to process emotionally, especially given that I’d just uprooted my own life and moved away from a home that had felt like a safe haven for me for the last six years. I felt pretty ungrounded but focused on talking to friends, family and my therapist about all the changes and accepted that my life was in a period of transition. I was also worried about my grandmother and wanted to support her through this.
My grandmother has lived in her house in Milledgeville, Georgia for 45 years. I was born in Milledgeville 32 years ago and lived there until I was 5 and we moved about 45 minutes away. Since the time that I was a baby, my grandmother and I have been best buds. I can’t even begin to count all of the amazing memories I have inside of this house and with her. They have been playing like a movie reel in my head nonstop for the last couple of months.
My dad sprung into action as soon as my grandmother’s decision was made and was instrumental in making the whole process as painless and easy as possible for her. As soon as I knew all of the details and timing I made plans to go down and help my grandmother prepare to leave her house.
I had the incredible gift of spending my grandmother’s last week in her house with her. I am so grateful for a career that allows me this kind of flexibility in my schedule. My clients were so supportive and understanding and my fiance encouraged me to do whatever I needed to and to stay as long as necessary. I think he taught 23 classes the week I was gone…his and all of mine!
I helped my grandmother go through drawers, closets and entire rooms to decide what to keep, sell or throw away.
My parents arrived half way through the week and we had the added job of going through a storage unit that they have had since they downsized from their house in Atlanta to their condo in Florida.
We had family and friends visit throughout the course of the week.
And I soaked up as much of the small southern town that has been so familiar and comfortable to me for so many years as I could. I had some wonderful, cathartic solo runs around town.
My grandmother ended up in Milledgeville 45 years ago when my grandfather accepted a job at Georgia College.
Things begin and things end. My grandmother’s street is not the same as it was when she moved all of those years ago. My grandfather passed away over 20 years ago and many of my grandmother’s neighbors have slowly passed away or moved away. Family homes are turning into college student rentals.
My grandmother moved to Florida where she has her own condo in the same building as my parents. It’s a sad ending and a happy beginning for her all at the same time. I stayed with her until she drove off with my mom, waving her goodbye in the same way that she did for me so many times over the course of my 32 years of visiting her. My dad stayed behind to get everything ready for the movers and the estate sale and I left to head back to Charlotte.
Yesterday I faced the tough task of heading back to Milledgeville, this time with Zoey and my fiance, to pick up a few things that I couldn’t bring back with me due to size. We rented a truck and made it a very long day trip.
The storage unit had been cleared down to just a few boxes and a washer left for me to take and the house was ready for the estate sale which takes place this weekend (which thankfully none of us have to be there for). We made it through getting a 200 pound front loading washer (it was my parents and had been sitting in storage so we gladly gave it a new home) onto the truck, driving it four hours home, unloading it and getting it in the house at 10 p.m. all on our own so I’ll call the trip a success.
I can’t describe what it felt like to drive into town knowing that my grandmother wasn’t there and that this chapter of my life was over. My reasons to visit Georgia are now few and far between.
My dad commented that I’d have a lot to blog about regarding my grandmother’s move to which I replied that I wasn’t sure if I was going to share. This feels so deeply personal to me and I still have a hard time putting myself, my family and my feelings out there in this capacity. But at the same time I share so much of my life with you that over time I’ve realized that it can be equally as hard not to share these types of big life events with you. We all go through ups and downs, failures and successes and beginnings and endings. I think talking about them can help pave the way towards being more open about and accepting of our feelings and also help us all support each other.
I will miss long hours sitting on this porch with my grandmother but I know that she will love her new ocean view just as much. It’s a comfort to know that my parents are right there if she needs anything and that she’s not alone. She visits them every night for dinner and has been out and about running errands with them. I can’t wait to visit soon and it will be so nice to have them all in one place.
I am so, so grateful to have been able to support my grandmother during this ending after all the unconditional love and support she has given me in my lifetime. I am so lucky to have her and thank god for her every day.
Thank you so much for sharing this story! I went through something similar a few years ago, a lot of change all at once, and even though the changes were all very positive it was still hard to let go of the familiar. It’s a process to deal with all the emotions and I too spent time with my therapist talking about transition and growth. Thank you for putting yourself out there week after week, often times being criticized in the process. I have used my experience to help listen and guide friends and family when they are going through their own transitions. This post will likely resonate with someone out there going through something of their own, especially as the year comes to an end.
P.S. I got your new book for my birthday 🙂
Thank you so much for this! And I love that you got my book!! I really appreciate your feedback.
Oh Jen~ thank you for sharing.. Xo
So beautifully written, as always, Jen. Grandparents sure have power to evoke deep emotions within us. When I let myself spend just a minute thinking of the changes we’ve observed in my grandma the past few years, I always end up crying immediately. But as you said, I think they are beautiful reminders that life is dynamic and that we have to embrace it. So glad to hear she’s liking her new location and thank you for sharing <3
You’re welcome! It’s never easy to watch those changes happen but you’re right, they’re a good reminder of what we have!
Lovely post Jen. These transitions are some powerful and cause so many emotions. But they are inevitable at some point, and various points at that in our lives. But the memories we hold are beautiful and new memories are just waiting for us to grasp in the future and cherish just the same <3 xoxo
Beautifully written, as always, Jen! My parents are actually preparing to move out of the home they have lived in since I was 7 (I’m almost 40) and I’m overflowing with emotions about it as well…..they are moving about 45 minutes away, and it’s strange to think I won’t have much reason to visit the town I spent most of my life living in! It’s hard to envision their new place (a retirement condo community) ever feeling as homey or cozy as our house, but — at the risk of sounding totally cheesy — I know home is where the heart is. And I’m thrilled my parents are still healthy and mobile enough to enjoy their new lifestyle, minus the home maintenace, yard upkeep, etc issues they have been struggling with!
I hope you look back at all the posts you have on this blog about the time with your grandmother. I know you will cherish the memories and I can’t wait for you to make new memories with her!
I really feel your pain on this. We moved around my entire childhood, so my Nana’s house in Colorado was the only consistent home I grew up with. I had to go help when we sold it two years ago and moved her into a condo (she wasn’t as ready for the move as your grandmother was). It was so hard. I’m glad I got to spend that time there and say goodbye, though. Glad you got to do the same 🙂
beautiful Jen! you are so lucky to be so close with your grandmother ! ❤️
What a beautiful reflection Jen, thanks for sharing!
I teared up reading your post. The only thing that gives me comfort during difficult and painful transitions like these, is that part of the human condition is that I’m not alone. Somewhere, someone else is going through something similar. It helps me feel less lonely.
You definitely are not alone, Jen.
Wishing you and your grandmother peace and joy on this new chapter ahead.
I don’t know why this post made ME so emotional while reading it. Ha!
Thank you for sharing Jen. You’re so lucky to have such a wonderful relationship with your grandmother. I’m happy she has a lovely new place to live comfortably in.
Thank you for sharing! You had me in tears over this post. I think because it hits so close to home. I am very close to my grandmother too and we are experiencing a few changes also. I’m so glad you were able to be with your grandmother to help her. Those are memories that no one will ever be able to take away from you. I hope she loves her new home in Florida!
This is a beautiful tribute. It brought tears to my eyes. My grandmother has also lived in the same house for over 40 years, and being able to visit her there has been one of the best constants in my life. I know my grandmother and our family may have to make a similar transition before too long. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, so thank you for sharing your experience! I’m glad you got to be there during the last week.
This was a really nice and well written tribute to your grandmother. Your grandmother is just adorable.
What a beautiful post….thank you for sharing!
Your post is written very beautifully. Thank you for sharing.
Jen, I know exactly how you feel. It’s not just a house or town, it’s a life lived and that life is yours and all of your memories and what made you what you are today. My Parents sold their home two years ago and moved to the same city where my two sisters and brother live. They are SO much closer to me now (I live in another province) and are able to see my siblings every day, which is great to see them have their constant support but it was so hard knowing that I would not have a reason to see my ‘home’ and ‘home town’. But, as you said, that home town has changed. It is not the same as my youth and, you know what? It’s the person or people that make it home. The town and structure have changed but when I go to my Parents, I am home! I’m sure that once you get used to the structure change that you will see this at your Grandma’s house also – home is a sense and a feeling.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful post, Jen. Hope you and your grandma are doing well and glad you’re focusing on the positives throughout this season of change. I had a couple big moves as a child and COUNTLESS ones as an adult (including overseas). My mom always said a house won’t feel like a home until we form special memories there (birthdays, holidays, evenings cooking in the kitchen, etc). It takes time, but I’m sure your Grandma is already creating wonderful memories with your parents down in Florida. It’s not our possessions or surroundings that fill our lives with joy, it’s the people we share it all with 🙂 XO
I’m glad you decided to share this. When you posted previously about having to go to your grandmother’s unexpectedly for an extended stay, I was worried that she was having health problems. Glad everyone is fine & she is enjoying her new adventure! I think it sounds like a wonderful move for her, although I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her to leave her home, just as it was hard for you to see her go. It will be nice to have them all in one place when you visit (although she’ll be further away). I bet it was a cathartic week for both of you.
Thank you for sharing this story! I went through this same thing a few years ago with my grandmother. It’s great she is so close to your parents now and I’m sure she is loving her new ocean view!
I saw that something had happened with your Grandmother, but somehow missed this post.
What a tough thing to do, but I’m so glad she had you there to help.
On a side note, My first job was in Macon and I traveled to Milledgeville for assignments occasionally. In fact, I would seek out assignments to go there because I thought it was such a charming town. I’m sure I would have driven past her house at some point! What a cool place to be from.
So glad your Grandmother is with your parents– that is a blessing!