We have a buyer. We're on the final rounds of clearing out Aunt Winnie's apartment though the closing won't be for another two months. My husband and son and I went there yesterday for one last look for things we might keep. There weren't many. There is a perfectly good couch that will go to an emergency apartment for people who get burned or flooded out of their homes. There is a Rolls Royce of a wheelchair that no senior center will take because it is pre-used. There is the rolling walker which the retirement center will take. They'll also take the boxes of unopened adult diapers and bed liners. There is a hospital bed that will go in the dumpster, and a dresser that has stood in its spot for 40 plus years. I toyed with taking the mirror from that dresser and hanging it on my wall. And then I decided I didn't want to be in my home and feel as if I was back in Aunt Winnie's sick room. I want things that remind me of her at her most buoyant, though I didn't ultimately take that chandelier lamp she loved and that we all joked about saving.
My husband took two sets of sherry glasses that would have gone to the thrift shop otherwise, and three silver trays in dire need of a cleaning. My son asked for the antique clock in his uncle's room. We left the very good recliner as we have no space for any more furniture. Maybe they will go in the emergency apartment, too. My mother's winter and fall clothes were also stored in the apartment. My cousin took some of those for her 95 year old mother, with whatever doesn't fit going to her church.
A very nice family with two newly adopted sons, one with special needs, will be buying the place, and they plan a gut renovation, which is good. The space has all sorts of potential and great light, and it could definitely use a refresh. The woman's mother lives in the apartment immediately below Aunt Winnie's, so on a winter morning her daughter won't even have to leave the building to take her sons to their grandmother. The mother is a lovely woman, who was always very nice to my aunt and uncle and to my own mother, so I am glad this is the family who will take over this space that is so emblematic of our family's history.
On Facebook yesterday I reflected that Apartment 18F has held the dreams of our whole extended family for more than 50 years. Aunt Winnie and Uncle Charlie were the gateway, the launch pad, the sanctuary for all of us who moved to America, and this three bedroom apartment in Morningside Heights was always our second, and at times our first, home. It is so difficult to contemplate now releasing the space where so much of this family's energy was spent. But Aunt Winnie and Uncle Charlie were there for us when we needed it, they showed us the meaning of commitment, of devotion to family, of humor and generosity and love. That will live on in each of us even when Apt 18F is ours no more. How lucky we are to have shared in all that transpired within these walls.
Two of my cousins called me crying when they read news of the sale because relinquishing this apartment we all grew up visiting, and in which so many of us lived for a season, is harder than any words can convey.