Move On Down the Road

The house was not very far from the apartment my father had been living in for the past year.

One Saturday in the fall, my father told us that he had found a place to live with a roommate, a real house with a yard and lots of space that might be a little more comfortable for us to visit.  The roommate owned the house and it had a second bedroom that he was going to have my father use.

It was a tiny little ranch house, with a detached garage, on a quiet, tree lined street.  The neighborhood was not so different than the one our family used to live in, except the houses were smaller.  The smallish yards were all well kept, but we didn’t see too much evidence of children; no Big Wheels parked in front of the houses, no sandboxes off in the side yards.  The garden beds were beautiful, if bare for this time of year.  Orange marigolds were the only thing left blooming.

Inside, we saw the small, white kitchen with the square table and criss cross backed chairs.  We entered the dining room with the too large table and sideboard.  We saw the brown tiled bathroom next to my father’s room.  My father’s room was already moved into; the room was large enough for his bed, his dresser and the olive green sofa that used to grace our own living room.

There was a living room with huge pieces of artwork.  The frames were huge and the artwork valuable enough to have small lights installed above them to illuminate the paintings.  There was a semi finished basement with a bar area and a storage room.  In addition, the basement housed something I’d always wanted to try:  a piano.   In the finished area, my father had set up two twin beds for two out of the three of us to sleep in; the third would get the sofa in my father’s room.

Outside, there was an enclosed porch with iron wrought furniture; I could imagine sipping lemonade out there or coloring at the glass topped table as we did on my great aunt and uncle’s enclosed porch in Grand Rapids.  There was a fish pond in the back yard, with fat goldfish bubbling underneath the surface.

All in all, it looked like a good fit for my father.  I knew he missed having a home to putter around in and do projects to; he had remodeled our kitchen and installed a brick patio at our old house.   But the house was quiet, and there were lots of things in the house that made it seem built for adults, not for children.  The fancy artwork was intimidating.  And it was a little disconcerting to have a new person in our family dynamic; when we visited, we’d be sharing space with the new roommate.

Still, as with when my father moved out, when my mother bought the new condo, when my father took his apartment, no one asked us children whether or not we liked the idea.  It was simply presented to us as a given, a done deal.  There was no use in thinking about alternatives, because none of them were options at this point. It honestly never occurred to me that we were allowed an opinion on the matter; adults made decisions, and children learned to deal with them.  Period.


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