Saying good-bye

I have become used to used to documenting firsts. Births. Birthdays. Pregnancies. Beginnings, mostly.

But to say good-bye? I have never been asked to document that before.
My friend Bettina told me she was feeling melancholy that her parents were moving away from her childhood home and she wanted to document one last family gathering there.
Immediately I felt a tightness in my gut. That feeling… The one of sadness about the end of a chapter. Or, in Bettina’s case, a long novel.
I spent my childhood as an Army brat, so moving was a way of life for me. Saying good-bye, over and over and over. Every 3 years. Farewell to favorite hideaway spots, to buddies in grade school, to bike paths and climbing trees.
This home, though – they spent more than 40 years there. Accumulating bits and pieces and memories stuck in every corner and crevice of this South Beach bungalow. It’s dwarfed by high rise condos just across the street that butt up to the beach. Visiting this place was like finding an amazing vintage souvenir amidst Miami’s careless modern glossiness.
When I arrived, I got the tour. Where sisters once shared a bunkbed. The spot that was once a window broken into in the early 80s then covered over and initialed in the stucco. The faithful, fruitful banana tree. They ate breakfast on the bright, funky dishes from the 70s, drank mimosas and laughed about mullet haircuts and marveled over old photographs. There was silliness, and happiness this morning.
Claudia clipped a bit of pink bougainvillea from the blossoming bush in yard and stuck it in a vase. Stoney sniffed his gardenia bush, which hadn’t given as many flowers this season, he said. The neighborhood cat hung out and enjoyed being petted and ate from a bowl of cat food left on the porch.
Most of the house was unmoved and it seemed impossible to me, aside from the clues of moving boxes in the living room, that it would all be packed away and cleared out a couple days later.
When Bettina texted me a photo of the empty living room later in the week, my heart did a summersault again.
The silly shot I took of their bathroom clock on this morning, to mark the date and time, sums it up better than I can.
“It’s later than you think.”
Thank goodness for photographs to help us remember.
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8 thoughts on “Saying good-bye

  1. Just saw this. Gonna take me some time to process. Had my head so far up my own affairs, it hadn’t occurred to me what a big thing this move would be. After all, it’s been a long time coming, so it’s not like a surprise.

    Stoney just posted on my timeline that “my brother is a big fat dummy”. I thought it had something to do with my upcoming birthday, but now I think maybe it was for selling his house. This house was the anchor of our branch of the Shukat family for 40 years. I guess now it’s Jenny and Oliver’s house, but it ‘s not a Shukat house. That leaves me and Amy, as far as our branch of the family. And we are renters since about 2008. We’ve moved many times since Stoney & Claudia bought 1435 Bay Rd., Miami Beach, Fl. and we’ve experienced the melancholy of moving. Selling that last house, the one I thought I would live the rest of my life in, was extremely hard, even though we only lived there a few years, so I can’t imagine the feelings they are having especially given the gypsy life they are moving to. I’m sure all of us Shukat’s feel somewhat adrift in the sea of life now that the anchor has been pulled up.

    I know how hard it was to see this happen. Amy and I did the same thing a few years ago when her mom passed and we had to liquidate her apt. which was the Mayer family’s anchor home.

    Not having any children ourselves, all you guys down there in Miami are our family. It’s regrettable that we couldn’t participate in more of the familiy events than we did, being so far away. But I hope you all know that it was something I had to do, not just for my career, but to find myself and my voice. Miami just wasn’t a big enough town for both Shukat brothers. πŸ™‚

    Congratulations Stoney and Claudia, where ever you are.
    Love you all. 😦

    BTW: Awsome pics.

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