Mar 14, 2017 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Bittersweet job: Sweeping memories from the family home

My husband and his three siblings (assisted by a few hard-working others) gathered this past weekend in the home they all grew up in, putting the past behind them and remembering events and people that will forever connect them.

Sisters-in-law Mary Jane and Rhonda go through a few of the hundreds of photos and mementos saved by their parents.

The goal was to make serious headway in cleaning out the house that their 89-year-old father, a widower for more than a quarter-century, lived in almost until his death last year. Task one was to load a walk-in dumpster to the gills with decades’ worth of stuff stored in the basement, garage and shed. Task two was to sort through and split up albums and boxes of photos and clippings and related evidence that the lives of Ron and Florence Lombardo were chock-full of family and love.

I’d gone through this ceremony of sorts a year earlier with my brother and sister when our father made us eligible, as he liked to say, to attend the orphans’ picnic. So it’s been a bit painful to relive saying goodbye, this time to a man who’d been a second father to me for almost 40 years. But it was heartening to hear Jim and his sisters and brother re-tell family lore (alternately sweet and sad, and sometimes funny) sparked by picking up a photo – some from their own milestones and some from before any of them were born.

I’m a little blue that we’re running out of reasons to visit Mt. Morris, this “Best Town by a Dam Site” on the northern end of lovely Letchworth State Park, in a village where the waitress at Charred knows on sight to bring my husband a Stella and put in an order for pulled pork with onion rings, where the manager at the Country Inn and Suites can always find us a room, where

Husband Jim, right, and his brother, Ronnie, lug decades worth of stored stuff from garage into awaiting dumpster.

in July 1973 after freshman year at SUNY Binghamton I stepped through the breezeway and into the blue-cupboard kitchen to visit a college pal and meet the couple who five years later would be my in-laws.

For a while it felt like cleaning out my husband’s childhood home would take forever.

Now I’m kind of sad that it won’t.

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