In the midst of global crapitude, my sister and my intrepid mother have together bought a house.

My sister has lived on Cape Cod for over 35 years. She is a creative iconoclast in a place that has both celebrated its creative iconoclasts, and has failed to find a way to keep them supported as the chasm between who has money (and lots of it) and those who don’t has gotten deeper. Like many beautiful places where the rebellious and imaginative have gathered over the years, it can be hard to afford to live there. She has been increasingly worried that the moment would come that she would be forced to leave — unable to find a home where a parking space costs as much as a house.

My mother has been, with my dad and offspring in tow, going to the Cape for adventures for about 50 years. She has always wanted to buy a piece of property up there, dreaming of family gathering in a place that has felt like home for much of our lives. My father, who hated home maintenance as much as anything in the world, could understand the desire, but just couldn’t wrap his arms around owning a second home that he knew would conspire to make him crazy from several hundred miles away. So each season, they would consider, and then reason would prevail, and they’d go home to Pennsylvania.

Breathe Deep and Resume the Quest

We lost my dad last summer, and last October, when we gathered on the Cape to say farewell to him by spreading his ashes in the sea there, as he’d wished, we decided that maybe my sister and my mother might consider becoming part time roommates. That way, my sister could find a way to be stable in a community she’s belonged to heart and soul for decades, and my mom could reach into a new adventure of how she could experience and explore the Outer Cape.

Yesterday, that happened. My mom still hasn’t seen the house live, but that has not dampened her enthusiasm or her purchasing furniture for it. We celebrated with champagne and a virtual tour, and promises of future gatherings.

My dad’s favorite phrase was “breathe deep and resume the quest.” Watching my mother manage her grief at losing her beloved partner of almost 70 years by diving into a new adventure that she can share with my sister has been truly inspiring and an extraordinary joy in a time that has lots of sorrow. And at some point, we’ll spirit my mom up to the Cape for the next piece of her quest. With piles of furniture. And I’m guessing a bunch of plants for the garden.

I share this because it was the first day in a long time that I was unadulteratedly happy. And it is reminding me that while none of us know what is coming around the corner, we can decide how to greet it when it arrives.


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