After the exhaustion and activity of the day before, we were slow to move from bed the following morning. The kids echoed our sentiments as they crawled into bed once we crawled out.
Our good neighbor, Carol, came to our rescue one last time and popped by mid morning to see how our departure was progressing. She hung around the rest of the morning and through our departure in the mid afternoon. We were glad to have her around. She fed the kids lunch, entertained them and kept me company while I packed up the last of things and tidied up just a bit. She also didn't mind when I had a complete meltdown around 1:30PM.
Our original plan had been to leave bright and early Saturday morning. Instead, we left around 3:00PM. Close enough.
It was sad to walk through the house one last time, thinking about how each one of my children had slept in the nursery and how it was shrouded in a horrible mustard paint and leaf wallpaper when we moved in. It was hard work removing that eyesore, but well worth the effort.
I spent some time wondering if I'd ever have another "great red wall of China" as Joe liked to call it,
and thinking about the many times our family and friends gathered around this counter to enjoy a meal together for a birthday, holiday, an invented cause like celebrating green or on a lazy Sunday evening to play games with friends.
It was sad knowing this was our last family picture on the front porch,
and more sad, the possibility that this was our last picture with Ms. Carol, a woman who has come to mean so much to all of us.
We still call her every few days, but we miss sharing our home and our life with her like we did at Floral Court. Who else would insist that Moria be in the picture, even if she's already in the cat cage?
Shortly after we had a contract on our home, but before we removed the "For Sale By Owner" sign from the yard, a realtor stopped by while in the neighborhood on other business. He couldn't believe we had sold our house, especially above asking price. Neither can we most days (More evidence of God's mighty hand at work in this season of our lives.). During our conversation he said, "Every house is the same. It's all just sticks and stones" Then he added that some just have more TLC than others.
I've thought of this man's comment on many occasions since leaving Maryland. It is just sticks and stones. We loved the way the sticks and stones of this house were laid out from the moment we saw it, but the reason we loved living at 3313 Floral Court was what happened within its walls: laughing, family, friends, crying, game playing, arts and crafts, growing, cooking, mess making, sharing, floor refinishing (oy!), talking, sleeping (always less than needed), playing, gardening, learning, arguing, hosting, eating, gathering, lego building, cuddling and snuggling (some of the best moments), mouse hunting, kissing and hugging, out of town guests, ant destruction, and the whole of all that has made up our life these last four plus years.
As we pulled away from the house that day, Joe handed me a deep purple crocus and bright yellow daffodil he'd just snipped from the blooms in the yard. One last gift from Floral Court. One more reminder of what we loved so much about this home and also what we'd miss as we ventured far away from what was so familiar and comfortable. We spent some time reminiscing in the car as we exited Maryland and headed into Pennsylvania. There were lots of tears, great sadness, some laughter and much gratitude as we made our way west.
The best parts of Floral Court, we took with us. The rest really is just sticks and stones.