Saturday night I returned from Albuquerque emotionally drained. After several years of resisting to downsize, my dad made the painful decision to sell his house and move into a retirement community. My dad loves this house that sits at the base of the Sandia Mountains. It is a home that my parents built 43 years ago and a place where they shared a good life. It is the home in which they raised and nurtured a family. When my dad called me a couple weeks ago to tell me he had sold the house the news was bittersweet. I knew that I would have to travel to Albuquerque and help my dad prepare to move. What was daunting was the prospect of having to make decisions regarding what to keep, sell and throw away. What was painful was knowing that this visit to assist my dad would be my last visit to my childhood home. The four days I was in Albuquerque, we worked intensely from the time we left the breakfast table until we went to bed. We inspected every drawer, cabinet and closet and set aside the things that were meaningful to each of us. I carefully chose items that were inextricably linked to memories of my childhood. These included a crepe pan, a fondue set, a small round powder box I had covered in velvet and embroidered with flowers for my mom and some delicate bird ornaments that clipped onto our Christmas tree every year. The things that I could not not bring back with me I willed myself to etch within my being:
the smell of the spice cabinet in the kitchen; quails calling at dawn outside my bedroom window; my dad’s brisk footsteps in the morning as he made his way downstairs and the swooshing of the den slider as he stepped out to retrieve the paper; classical music emanating from the kitchen radio, the aroma of coffee brewing and pancakes on the griddle wafting upstairs luring me to get out of bed on Sunday mornings.
My plan was to photograph my dad in every room. I drew comfort from knowing that I would have documentation of what had existed. Unfortunately, I was unable to muster the energy to progress beyond the kitchen. I am fine with that now. The kitchen was the heart of our home. It was where our family always came together. My most pleasurable memories were created in that space. I know my dad will have his memories too, memories we created as a family at 102 Juniper Hill Place.