SOLD: This Old house

Part I: This Old House | Part II: Do I stay or do I go now? | Part III: Why is selling the house so hard? | Part IV: Sold (below)

It took me four years, but I did it. I sold That Old House.

The first year after my husband died, I knew it would not be a good idea to make any significant decisions or add additional stress to my life. So I hunkered down and focused on surviving. The second year I debated endlessly on whether or not to sell it (read more.) By year 3, I was weary of living in overwhelm. I decided to try to "move on," at least with regard to the house. So I put the home that Doug and I were married in, lived in and loved on the market (read more.)

saying goodbyeI was a hysterical mess about selling. Still, I worked hard to get rid of stuff and stage the house. Within weeks, a buyer made an offer, but I simply wasn't ready to part with it. As it happened, some trusted friends were looking for a place at the same time. I took the house off the market and rented it to them.

They loved the place, and indicated they might buy it. Seeing my friends enjoying the house and property made it easier for me to imagine someone else living there. It also gave me time to separate myself from it. I moved in with PS, but my friends cared for the goats and ducks, since PS didn't have a barn.

For a variety of reasons, my friends were not able to buy the house. Then I remarried. PS had a newer (read "lower maintenance") house in an awesome location on a small private lake. He wasn't comfortable moving into my old house for two reasons: it was old (he knew enough to realize that nothing works in an old house but the owner), and he felt it was "Bet and Doug's house."

PS's wife had died from cancer within months of them moving to the lakehouse. As a result, he had limited history with her there, other than the fact that it had been their dream to live on a lake. PS and I debated buying a house together, and starting over, which had appeal. But we ultimately decided that selling one house and moving one household was stressful and expensive enough.

So in year four, I put This Old House back on the market. I was hoping for buyers who would love and care for it. I found them, and we struck a (somewhat painful) deal. On the last night there, as I swept out the empty house and scrubbed the 174 floors until they gleamed, I said goodbye. Now I figure it is the new owner's chance to love it, continue to restore it, make it a home, and raise a family there.

Many parts of the process were hard: making the decision, the need to constantly keep the house ready to show on a moment's notice, the expense of fixing it up and dealing with problems identified during the engineering inspection,dashed hopes when a deal fell through, and the uncertainty of it all. The worst part was probably the work involved with packing and moving,

There were also the arguments with PS about what to bring with me and where to put it. When two widowers combine households, they have to deal with four people's worth of stuff. I was also moving from a very large house with lots of storage (and decades of accumulations) to a smaller place. I put my foot down about keeping some things that held a lot of meaning for me, and I'm glad I did. I also divided some plants and brought the progeny with me. The stone bench we got as a wedding present from Doug's brother now adorns the Z Rock & Rain Garden.

I drive by the old house often, since I still live in the same town and still walk with friends from that ''hood, I feel a sense of detachment. I was able to let it go. On the other hand, Doug's parents get weepy when they go by, and have to take a different route.

I think the thing that would bother me most would be if another owner tore it down, or let the house and its rich history fall to pieces. But I realize I can't control what happens to it now. So many of life's struggles are about control.

Also, I have realized that, even though Doug and I shared many wonderful years there, those years and memories are inside my heart and mind, not inside a house. (I didn't tell the new owners that Doug's ashes are in the driveway.)

It is also significantly less painful to be in a new place, without constant reminders of what is no longer. The fact that the house and neighborhood were saturated with Doug provoked a constant ache.

I must say I do NOT miss the amount of work associated with owning an antique house with land. Without Doug, and despite much help from neighbors and PS, it was overwhelming. We had acreage, goats, ducks, big gardens, etc. In the new house (which is slowly starting to feel like home) I have a small butterfly garden and two ducks. It is much more manageable.

I do miss mowing the big meadow though. We mowed as a duo: me on the riding mower; him on the push mower, sweating and dirty, doing the steep parts and flashing that big smile at me every time we passed each other. Even the riding mower duty was hard because it was so bumpy. Doug drove his backhoe over the lawn when it was wet once, so mowing through the ruts was like riding a bucking bronco. But it was still fun.


Home is where the heart is.




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