The last memory of my father before he passed away was in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. It was at our family’s townhouse, the same townhouse that we’ve had since the 1980s. In March of 1995 he had flown down from N.Y. for Mike’s 15th birthday. He had rented a Ford Thunderbird of the same year, which we all thought was a pretty hot car. The only thing we ever really had to compare it to was our maroon family Buick. He took us to the empty church parking lot nearby and let us take turns driving for our 1st time. Naturally, Mike got more time behind the wheel since he was older. Dad took us for coconut sorbet and seafood dinners that week. Best of all he took us to our family beach, Bathtub Beach, the exact beach that had been the deciding factor 3 years earlier to move to Florida from our seemingly flawless life in N.Y. as a family.
Today I received a call from my Grandmother confessing that it’s time to sell the house. All those nights spent giggling with Mike in the dark telling goofy stories while we lay in our sleeping bags in the walk-in closet – because it was always so much more fun to “camp out” in mom and dad’s room than in our own bedroom with twin-sized beds. All those days spent catching lizards and housing them in our critter cages only to see that the ants have unwittingly ate them alive overnight. All the playing on the kitchen and living room floor with our Sea World stuffed animals, our most prized possessions from one of many weeks away from N.Y. Dad playing Jaws in the community pool, grabbing our ankles from under water. Cupping his hands to launch us into the air to spin ourselves in elaborate twists and turns while trying to make some of the largest splashes, always trying to prove to the neighborhood “Grinch Who Stole Vacation” that it’s impossible to make our vacation anything less than perfect. Because it always was.
After staging the townhouse myself this past summer – bringing the late 1980s décor to a more modern, minimalistic, gender neutral, I’ve stayed hopeful for both my Grandmother and myself that it’ll rent, and therefore it’ll stay here in our lives, my life. Never able to bear the thought of the house not being in my life, now I’m faced with it. The last location I’ve seen my father is now going to be sold at a price- a price that is impossible to put on its true worth to me.
The reality and practicality of it hits my gut as if I knew deep inside like it was inevitable. But the raw emotion behind it stings just as much as my denial. I wish there were a world where we could stay in our happiest moments to live that way forever in all its simplicity and love. That was my childhood and our family vacations to Port Saint Lucie. I thought I was finished mourning childhood losses, but perhaps this is truly and finally the last Band-Aid to be removed.