Our House Is a Very, Very, Very Fine House…

I shouldn’t be doing this. It’s 11:25 pm on Thursday night as I start writing this. I’m exhausted. I went to bed two hours ago, but I can’t sleep. (Odie just came in. He was asleep on my bed when I decided to come up here and do this. He sleeps light.) So, please forgive any typos, or rambling…

My house — Our house — has been for sale since late April. I’m expecting an offer, perhaps as soon as today as you’re reading this. My thinking is that it won’t be for as much as I’m hoping to get, so I guess we’ll have to play the negotiating game. I’m not really looking forward to that.

It’s been an emotional time, as you can probably imagine. People say, “you shouldn’t do anything major for a year” after someone dies. I suppose that’s good advice … but the truth is, Barbara and I had discussed what the other one might do with the house if one of us died almost from the moment we bought it.

It was always more house than made sense for the two of us, but we loved it. We said to ourselves, “who knows how long we’ll get here? Two years? Ten? But it’ll be worth it.” We got almost 12 years here together … and it was! But now it’s time — for so many reasons — for me to go.

I’ve felt for a while like things are in limbo. Like my life won’t really start again until I’m into someplace new and working on something that I really want to do again. (I’ve got a new kids hockey book due out in the fall, and I’ve just started work on another kid’s book — football, this time — that’ll keep me busy for a while … but the truth is, I’m getting a little tired of doing the same old thing.) Still, it doesn’t mean I’m really ready to leave here yet. I don’t feel uncomfortable, or even sad, in the house by myself; I just know I can’t stay much longer. I won’t be leaving Owen Sound. I’m still very happy here. I just need some place smaller and more manageable for me on my own.

Of course, it hasn’t been easy. Just “staging” the house was emotional. Getting rid of the things I’ve gotten rid off. (I have a friend sort of “coaching” me through it. It takes her a while to talk me into doing anything. When I finally do, I go at it with gusto … and I’m happy for a while, then I’m sad, but then I get over it. And then it all happens again.) The actual move, when it comes, is going to be harder still. But it’s something I have to do.

People say (I suppose the same “people” I mentioned above!) that selling a house is stressful. It is! Which may sound strange considering the stress I was under at this same time last year. But, in truth, a year ago today as you’re reading this — July 19, 2018 –– was a good day, if a somewhat strange one.

Barbara had been on her “chemo break” for close to a month and was feeling as good as she had at pretty much any time since her diagnosis in March. On July 19, we went to Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, where we’d been sent by our oncologist in Owen Sound for a second opinion. It was all very interesting. I’ve written a little about this before, so I’ll say only that we learned a lot more than we had known previously, and it seemed very encouraging. (Over the last 11 months, I’ve read and re-read the notes the Princess Margaret doctors sent back to Owen Sound, and looked at the test results. I’ve come to believe that Barbara was actually a lot sicker than anyone was letting on. Still, no one seemed to think that the end would come as quickly as it did. Barely another three weeks.) The next day, we had a lovely time at Edwards Gardens with Barbara’s son Josh and Danielle and our granddaughter. As I’ve said before, it was the last truly care-free day…

So, that’s where I’m at these days. I’ll probably write some sort of update after the house has sold and I’ve made my move.

But, honestly, as I’ve said in many of these more personal posts over the last few months— and despite the way this probably reads — I think I’m doing quite well. Still, sometimes I feel the need to write something like this. And now it’s 12:46 in the morning, so it’s time to go to sleep.

18 thoughts on “Our House Is a Very, Very, Very Fine House…

  1. Oh Eric, this was hard to read but I’m sure hard to write as well. We just lost another friend to pancreatic cancer. 10 days before he died he was driving and seeing friends — two days later he went into the hospice. It seems that this awful disease moves very quickly. There’s no way of knowing exactly …

    Sending hugs and hoping your lovely home will soon be sold and you can begin a new phase.

  2. You will always have beautiful memories from this house. It is really hard to leave a house you love, that part never gets easier. Especially when the memories are tied up with your memories of Barbara. But you take the memories with you.

    I hope your new place will become your home quickly, and bring you peace and happiness.

  3. From here in Vienna Eric, you are doing great even just to make the decision to sell! To really put it up for sale OMG! That photo of all of you in Edwards Gardens she still looks like the girl I remember…BEAUTIFUL SMILE! She was REAL, Eric! and I will still miss her voice when I start High Holy Days rehearsals in a couple of weeks! My lovely soprano…Barbara

  4. What a lovely memory to have on this day, Eric. I’m sure that I will always think of this house as Eric’s and Barbara’s place. I hope things go well today, and later with your move. I’m so glad you are staying in town — as I’ve said before, losing one wonderful friend is terrible, losing two would be unacceptable.

  5. Dear Eric:

    It sure stirs memories. After Shirley died, I kept going to the country house in the Catskills that she designed and supervised the building. Back in 1971. But it was so different — and empty — without her. Selling was tortuous but not for the memories alone but the selling process. Too long a story but I hope you are doing well. I’m in Israel. Just pored through your Art Ross book as I’m doing piece on one of his last goalies, Jack Gelineau.
    Be well.

  6. Dearest Eric,
    I think you are very brave and I hope the selling of your house goes as smoothly as possible. Good luck with everything and with the next phase of your journey.
    Sending much love.

  7. Eric,
    When my father died in 1991, I didn’t really deal with bereavement. When my mother passed away in 2005, I attended bereavement classes, offered by the funeral home: R.S. Kane. It did a world of good for me. I learned that grief is individual, you, at this time in your life, feel it is imperative to sell your home in Owen Sound. If that’s what you must do, then you must do it. There is no right or wrong way of dealing with loss. The pain will never go, as I’m sure you are aware. Trust your feelings and go with it!

  8. Always you move my heart with your writings. Especially this piece. Life is full of surprises and sometimes it is better to walk around the hurtles than try to jump them. You will know when you can propel yourself up and over. Be at peace my friend.

  9. I feel you, Eric!
    You have me sitting here, ruminating, for the past hour or so, and essentially reflecting upon life in remembering all the circumstances surrounding the nine houses which I have bought and sold and especially the bittersweet nature of at least four of those tumultuous, heart-rending, transactions.

    Thanks for the memories!

    CHEERS!

  10. Eric, Just a thought, it would seem that writing these feelings and sharing your story is somewhat therapeutic for you. At least I hope it is. It occurred to me that there are many who have faced the same personal trauma that you have. I personally know several. Feeling alone is most certainly natural during this time.
    Have you considered writing a book on this subject? You clearly have the talent and I can’t imagine how helpful the process would be for you and others that feel alone when they have lost a spouse. Like I said, just a thought. I hope I have not overstepped.

    1. I’ve never thought about it too seriously, but I have thought about it. Honestly, though (and maybe it’s just that I have a hard time taking myself seriously), I don’t know why someone would want to listen to what I have to say. Even more, I just think everyone has to go through it in their own way. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. I’m happy to talk with people, and to listen, but I wouldn’t really want to TELL them. But we’ll see…

  11. What a lovely post & beautiful photos of your beautiful house. Thank you for always making me feel welcome in your home…..
    Altho’ a lot of people say no major decisions for an entire year that can be unhealthy also. From your post I can hear that you feel it is time & so for you, it IS time….Sitting in one place stagnating & not moving forward is not living at all. And I KNOW that Barbara would want you to live…..to find your way thru’ your grief & to come out the other side intact & ready to live the next chapter of your life. She loved you THAT much!
    Good luck with the house selling…. **purrsss** from BellaDharma to Odie & Riggs too!

  12. There are no fixed rules. Kubler-Ross isn’t a Bible. Our coping with the death of your classmate was different than someone else might do. When my mom was hit by a truck, after Zena and I were married less than a year, we coped not like a book said. When Zena lost her brother shortly after my in laws didn’t really cope well at all. The sum total is, as no surprise, everyone and every situation is unique. You do what feels right for YOU!
    But keep writing. It is therapy. Maybe, someday, a book about the two of you, how you met, your lives together etc. A love story.
    As for a professional book, the Argos of Royal Copland and Joe Kroll, when the Argos were important and the Grey Cup was more than a “drunkathon”
    Enjoy life!

  13. Eric, your thoughts/writing is deep and beautiful. That is a lovely house with wonderful memories. I hope that the sale goes through smoothly with as little stress as possible. I am glad you have an offer. Keep us posted as to how it goes. Thinking of you!

  14. Another beautiful story. I’m sorry you had to write it. But it appears that your coming along and slowly doing better.

  15. Morning Eric, you have to go with how you feel. I wrote a diary for my mum after she died. I told her everything I felt . My hurt my pain. Especially as she died in my home after nursing her for the last 6 months of her life. I have tried to sell my home so many times and each time some crisis or other pops up! You are very brave to sell and deal with bereavement at the same time. Barbara will be there with you every step of the way. I was looking through her mail with me last week when I saw she was going to make me a necklace with Robbie my golden retriever on it, she adored Robbie. She never made it, but I never really thought she would have had time to do it as she was always so busy. Barbara had a great life with you Eric. ẞhe did so much with her life, and enjoyed her travels and home with you. Now this is your time to go forward. You will take Barbara with you on your journey, and that will be a love that will never let you down. God Bless you Eric. xxx

  16. Wonderful and touching. And a great way to cope with a patch of insomnia!! It’s such a beautiful home, and you are right to feel fortunate for having owned it for a short time, let alone the many years you shared it with Barbara. I hope that offer came through and you’ve got a deal.
    Looking forward to seeing you in Owen Sound again before too long, and catching up.

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