When I wake up to my cell phone ringing, the first thing I notice is it’s still dark outside, and my alarm clock reads 5:30 am. Groaning, I reach over and grab my phone off the charger, praying one of my boys isn’t sick or in trouble. I look at the screen to see it’s my sister, Hallie. I answer, “What the hell, Hallie? It’s fucking 5:30 in the morning!”
She starts singing Happy Birthday. I flop back onto the bed, letting her finish because I know by now not to even try to stop her until she finishes all of her made-up second and third verses. When she finally stops to take a breath, I remain silent. All of a sudden, she is yelling, “Wake up bitch! It’s your 45th birthday!”
“Really, Hallie? You are calling and waking me up this early to wish me Happy Birthday? Couldn’t you have called, uh, I don’t know around, say, like 9?” I grumble.
She’s quiet for a moment. “I talked to Mom last night, and she reminded me you were born at this time in the morning, you know, after the dreaded 15 hours of labor you put her through. Anyway, Mack and I are headed out to a convention in San Francisco, and we have to leave for the airport in a few minutes, so I thought, ‘Yay! I get to talk to my little sis right as she is turning 45’.”
Closing my eyes, I try not to sound bitchy when I say, “Thank you, big sis.”
She’s quiet for another moment.
“Look, I know birthdays are hard for you since Allen’s death, and now that you are an empty nester. I also know you’re going to have a tough time tonight telling the boys about the house's offer and your decision to move. I love you, Ruby, and I really would have liked it if you would have let me come down to be with you for this. But nooooo, as usual, you have to do everything on your own. How do you think they are going to take it?”
“I don’t know,” I sigh. “I’ve run every single scenario over in my head, preparing myself for all possible reactions. I know once they get over the initial shock, they’ll be happy for me. They are always telling me it’s time to go out and start living. I guess we’ll see how they react when I take their advice.”
Doubt starts creeping its way into my mind, and I wonder if I’m doing the right thing for the hundredth time. Selling a house that you have made your home for the last 23 years is a big, life-changing decision. A house where all four of your children have laughed, cried, fought, and grew into amazing young men. A house that brought us all comfort when the unimaginable happened, the day I lost my husband and my best friend. The day the boys lost their father and their hero. It was a day my boys had to grow up fast and face the tragedy of losing a parent. It was the day that changed all of our lives.
Oh, my boys. My beautiful, strong, wonderful boys.
“Are you listening to me? Make sure you call me as soon as that conversation is over. I don’t care what I’m in the middle of, or what time it is, please call me. I’ll worry myself sick until I hear from you,” Hallie says with concern in her voice.
“I think you are being a little dramatic, Hallie, I mean, really, they will be upset, of course, but it’s not like they are going to refuse to talk to me ever again,” I explain. “For Pete’s sake.”
“I know, I know, it’s just this is huge! I don’t want you feeling guilty about any of this. It’s been three years since Allen’s death and two years since all the boys have been out of the house. You deserve this fresh start,” she expresses. “Honestly, who would have ever thought someone would stop by, out of the blue, and want to buy your house. It’s a big beautiful house; it’s just it’s in Podunk, Ohio. What are the chances of that happening? I would have to say 0 out of 100. It a sign, don’t ya think?”
“Yeah, I think it’s a sign too, and I don’t live in Podunk, Ohio, Miss Chicago. It’s a lovely little town with a quaint downtown, so lay off. You know you like it here, whether you admit it or not. You love the big, old, beautiful houses here,” I reason.
“Yes, I like it there to visit, just not to live. Mack and I probably would be divorced if we lived there,” she chuckles.
“No, not divorced, you would have just killed him by now with your cooking. There are only two restaurants here in Podunk, and they both close by 9. He’d starve!“ We both had a good laugh and talk a little more about tonight. I manage to get off the phone with a promise to call later.