After twenty-four years of witnessing firsts, the Holmes house tenders twenty-four hours of lasts.
My last make-shift supper, avocado on toast at ten-thirty, when all my helpers had hugged me and slipped into the night.
My last turn around the hardwood floors with a broom, as each room empties.
My last spin of the washing machine with a hodge-podge load of whatever has not been packed — the sheets from my bed, yesterday’s clothes, a kitchen’s worth of tea towels.
My last crystal mug of micro-waved coffee.
Eventually, thirteen hours from now, the last turn of my key in her door.
The ink has dried on my seller’s signature. In a few hours, the new owner of the Holmes house will sit in the closing room, experiencing her own firsts: A first mortgage, a first house, the first day of her new life. I’ll write a note telling her about the alarm code, trash day, and a few little nuances of cabinet doors and creaky floors. I’ll place the envelope on the mantel where my grandfather’s clock has sat for the last twenty-four years. I’ll walk my tired feet to my beautiful porch for the last time. I’ll turn, I’ll stifle my tears, and savor one last, lingering look. Then I’ll take my weary body down her steps one last time. I’ll try not to fall. I’ll say goodbye to the Japanese maple; to the rise of the cathedral ceiling with its graceful arches; and to the angel which I’m leaving on its hook to welcome the new owner to the Holmes house.
Then I will say goodbye, for the last time, to the place which I have called home for so many wonderful years.
It’s the eighth day of the forty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.