Saturday, 24 July 2010

Sale of a house

This morning I went to an auction. The house for sale belonged to our friend B, who died in January. Two of her very close friends are the executors of her will, and it has taken all this time, and an immense amount of work, to get the house ready for sale.

It is a lovely house, about five minutes by car away from us, with a small garden - actually quite large for this area - and it was extended and renovated before B and her husband moved in. The house dates back to the 19th century, and there are apparently lots of documents giving the history of the land and the house.

B and her husband K were friends of Dr P from way back, and they were all involved in significant political and civil liberties issues. I gather from other people that B and Dr P were an item, before he met and married his second wife, the mother of his three younger children. Although political differences later caused a rift, the friendship did endure, although from time to time the debates used to get extremely vigorous. I tend to avoid this kind of robust debate myself, shying away from arguments, and was quite unaccustomed to the sort of arguments that flared up from time to time. Not those three, however, all of them being combative people not afraid to call a spade a bloody shovel. They had heaps of friends, and we saw a lot of each other. They became my friends as well as Dr P's. I keep expecting to see B as I walk around the neighbourhood. There are so many reminders of her.

K died four years ago, and his wife completed the work on his autobiography, had it published and continued with her extremely energetic and active life, until she too became ill with cancer. Despite extensive and painful treatment, she died at the beginning of the year. My friend E and her fellow executor S have worked for most of the year on the will, and E's husband complains he is an executor's widower.  There is still more to be done - huge numbers of books to be disposed of, and furniture to be valued and sold. Etcetera. It makes me resolve to keep at the tidying and the de-cluttering, and to dispose of whatever is likely never to be looked at or used again.

I am glad I went to the auction, to give some additional support and comfort to E and S. We shed some tears together, as we farewelled the house in which we had all spent so many enjoyable and vigorous hours. The house was bought by a young couple with a baby, and we know it will be a happy house for them. It is a house for all seasons. We drank a toast to us all and to the new owners' future.

All of this makes me reflect yet again about death and dying. I hope I don't live to a great age: a nice sudden heart attack would do me nicely. Not a nasty terminal illness, nor a decline into feebleness of mind and body, such as is happening to Dr P, and which is likely to continue indefinitely, as he has a very strong constitution. I'd like to die before I lose my marbles, being alarmed by the fact that it no longer seems possible to learn Spanish, which is what I was hoping to resume doing, especially if I am actually going there in a couple of months. I came home from the auction, and Dr P says he can't remember the house, or even the name of the street, and he keeps asking me the sale price. It is awful watching the decline of a once vigorous and powerful mind.


Elisabeth said...

This a sad post, beautifully written and full of the pain of loss but also of the joy of friendship shared.

One of my daughters reminded me the other day that I had once told her that around about the age she is now at sixteen I decided it would be a good idea to die at sixty.

Sixty I thought then was plenty old enough.

I do not think this now. Now sixty is still young.

Thank you.

Pam said...

Yes, indeed. My dad's mind - once very brilliant - went in his last few months because of cancer, and it was awful. Though blessedly quite quick.

We would all like the quick painless heart attack. Meanwhile, decluttering seems a fine idea. Just not quite yet...

Rhubarb Whine said...

Gosh, that would have been a hard thing to do.

molly said...

I agree that to become feeble minded would be the worst way to go......

Meggie said...

My heart breaks for both of you. I am too close the reality of all this, not to be touched by reading about it all.
I agree with Elisabeth, sixty is so young!

Frances said...

My mother-in-law - (a woman who evidently had chosen positivity and kindness as her role, and had been an impeccable wife and mother: I do not have a word to say against her) - according to her daughter, started, in dementia speaking of and yearning for the boy that she had truly loved rather than her husband.

That dementia may reveal ancient secrets is a sad, almost frightening idea.