April 2010 Column Winner

Going home for the holiday

Faith Wylie, Oologah Lake Leader

We gathered at home for Easter, like we have done so many times since 1959 when my family moved into our brand-new house in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

We awakened Easter morning to candy eggs near our pillows, just like when we were children. We searched for candy eggs throughout the house, looking high and low. Potato salad and ham were consumed in appropriate quantities.

It was just like always.


Except we are no longer children. Mark, the oldest child, is 58 and a grandparent. Dawn, Celeste and I are all in our 50s.

Except we are no longer a family of seven. Dad has been gone since 1991 and baby sister Heidi has been gone since 2006.

Except it was the last holiday for the Lubbens in this old house.

Thursday, Mom and Celeste move to a 50+ condominium community.

We spent the weekend packing boxes, sorting files and exploring the deep recesses of the basement.

Each dish, each piece of paper, each old game and record album has a place in our collective family memory.

We laughed about our Easter egg hunts. To make it fair for the little girls (Celeste and Heidi), we gathered all the eggs and candy then split it five ways. We could eat the candy in reach without getting out of bed, but anything else went into the common pot for redistribution. Mom always stressed sharing, but I suspect the bossy big sister devised this organizing and counting of eggs.

Saturday I packed the contents of the china cabinet and buffet. The turquoise glass martini set was always a family favorite. The vases brought back the scent of mock orange and cherry blossoms and soft feel of early spring pussy willows, all gathered from our gardens. Dad called irises "poor man's orchids." With all the flowers, we were never poor.

In the fall, the vases displayed seed heads, grasses and other bits of nature gathered on Dad's hunting trips.

I boxed up the "good china" to bring to sister Dawn in Oologah. How many Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving dinners were served on those translucent white plates with delicate pink flowers and gray leaves?

A few pieces of glassware snuck into my car instead of the boxes for the new house.

My brother got the tough job of sorting Dad's paperwork. Even after 19 years, I recognized that distinctive Art Lubben handwriting and printing.

Dad was a trustee for his union pension plan. One notepad outlined a presentation on raising the retirement plan contribution from 30 cents to 50 cents per hour. The important points were underscored. Twice. Dad's homework and persuasion paid off.

We laughed and cried though memories and treasures.

Mom plans to write notes on special features in the house.

Will a new family appreciate granite cobblestones salvaged from the old streets of Kansas City edging the flower beds? What about the towering evergreen that was the home's first Christmas tree in 1959? Will they notice the interesting rock formations that were hand-selected for the rock garden?

The entry floor has endured lots of wet boots, muddy bare feet and doggie paws from our family. But that travertine marble also felt the steady tread of early Kansas City founders as it graced the halls of the original Kansas City Board of Trade in the 1880s. Dad couldn't stand to watch history hauled off to the dump.

Our next family holiday will be in a more practical location. The new condo has a great layout all on one level, with handicapped accessibility throughout. Mom won't worry about snow removal or lawn mowing.

Easter is about new beginnings, about hope coming after sadness.

The new house will become our home. It will be a new beginning with fewer challenges.

I pray that our old house finds a young family with children who use and abuse the house just like we did.

I hope they like flowers and collect vases, just like Mom.

3 comments (Add your own)

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