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Preview: My Mom's House

My Mom's House

My journey through cleaning out my Mom's house and putting it on the market to sell.

Last Build Date: Sun, 05 Oct 2014 04:03:55 +0000


Memories and Moving

Thu, 02 Nov 2006 12:22:00 +0000

I went to a luncheon yesterday with my Father’s Naval Academy Classmates. They are turning 90 this year. The classmates that are local get together once a month for lunch. Wives, classmate widows and children of classmates are welcome. I’ve known the classmates most of my life. I had the chance to find out what the epaulets and hat are that I found in the basement of my parent’s house. The dress epaulets, the “fore and aft” hat and the sword were all issued to new graduates to be used for dress occasions. One classmate said he had used his once. Over the weekend I went to a Halloween party and I wore the dress epaulets and “fore and aft” hat with a tailcoat I found in the house.
Blog will slow down for now. I am moving to Charleston next week and will pack up the computer shortly. I’m busy with sorting, organizing and packing.

Real Estate Market in Northern Virginia

Fri, 27 Oct 2006 12:06:00 +0000

The real estate market in Northern Virginia is slow like everywhere else. The economy has slowed and the Feds held steady on the rates. But Northern Virginia is always mobile so we are not discouraged yet. Real Estate inventory has climbed and days-on-market has increased. The market is soft. I’m learning more about real estate than I wanted to know. Unfortunately I will put my house on the market in the near future. I am currently cleaning it out so I can move to Charleston to take care of my mother. Wish me luck.

Aging Parents and Dementia

Wed, 25 Oct 2006 23:26:00 +0000

Anyone who has had to deal with the aging of their parents are aware of how difficult it can be emotionally. Aging parents present a new set of challenges. My mother’s increasing dementia is difficult for me to face. She calls me regularly but is confused and often forgets the topic of conversation, so I remind her. Those in the know tell us never to argue with a parent with dementia because their reality is different from what we perceive as reality. I don’t want to upset my mother so I “tap dance” when she asks about her car or her house. We sold the car last summer; we cleaned out the house and put it on the market. Downsizing a parent’s home without their involvement is a “no-win” situation. In the past when I tried to get Betty interested in downsizing the house, she wouldn’t do it. Now she believes that she can come up to the house and take what she wants back to her assisted living apartment in South Carolina. The dementia makes Betty more wily and bull-headed than ever… and she is wily and bull-headed! However, on the bright side, she is still the vivacious, social, fun-loving gal she always was.

The Rambler

Mon, 23 Oct 2006 11:36:00 +0000

We moved to the Washington area from England. My father was assigned to the Navy yard. Even then the real estate market was expensive and my mother had to settle on a house that was smaller than she wanted. But Mom and Dad assumed we would be in the house only three years before Dad was transferred again. Much of the old family bits and memorabilia were stored in the basement, most in footlockers. But after three years they decided they liked the Washington area and so they stayed.

To see the house, visit the Realtor website:

The Second Story

Mon, 23 Oct 2006 11:33:00 +0000

After the three children had grown and left home, Mom decided to double the size of the house by adding a second story to the rambler. She designed the layout for the second story while Dad hired the contractor and paid the bills. Actually both of them had fun during this project.

Mom refused (not suggested, but refused) to allow the contractors to cut the stairway to the first floor until all the work was completed on the second story. She didn’t want all the construction dust and dirt on the main level of the house. Consequently the construction crew had to climb a ladder to the roof of the sunroom and crawl through the window in the new master bedroom to access the second story. Thus, Mom and Dad had to do the same thing each time they wanted to check on the progress of the project. I have a very vivid memory of watching my 63-year old mother climbing the ladder to the sunroom roof and crawling through the window. Dad always went up the ladder behind her…just in case. I followed, giggling the whole way.

The second story is spacious, the master bedroom is huge with a large bathroom. I think my favorite feature of the addition is the cedar closet. It is large with hanging rods and shelves.

One morning during construction my Dad recalled he was making a pot of tea for “Madame” when a large foot broke through the kitchen ceiling. Obviously a workman had slipped off a joist and his foot broke through the ceiling. As Dad delivered the tea, he told “Madame” there was a new skylight in the kitchen. Later when I saw the large hole in the kitchen ceiling he told me they had decided to add a dumb waiter for the morning tea. I had to laugh at Dad’s dry comments about the large hole in the ceiling.

Open House - October 22, 1-4pm

Fri, 20 Oct 2006 11:59:00 +0000

Our family home will be open on Sunday, October 22, 1-4pm.

The first weekend the house was on the market, several neighbors showed up who hadn’t seen the house in the past few years. They started reminiscing about the years on Peacock Avenue and their memories of Mom. One year we had a tremendous snow storm, so mom cooked up a big pot of chili, made cornbread and invited the neighbors to a “snowed-in” party. Lots of folks showed up and everyone had a lot of fun. All of us were suffering from cabin fever and the party was a great distraction. That was Mom’s way! Snowed-in…throw a party!

Peacock Avenue House

Thu, 19 Oct 2006 14:12:00 +0000

Gracious, spacious and comfortable. On the back is a wonderful sunroom and screened porch. Mom added the sunroom before adding the screened porch. We’ve spent a lot of good times on that porch.

The house also has a full basement, half finished. My Dad’s workshop is in the unfinished side. That is also where the footlockers were stored full of old family treasures (see earlier posts). I learned to ride a unicycle on the unfinished side. It’s a wonder I didn’t break every bone falling on the concrete floor.

The finished side was supposed to be a rec room for teenagers, but ended up being storage for genealogical research. In my earlier years, I was riffed from my job and ended up coming home for a year. I set up camp in the finished side of the basement that year.

The second story that Mom added (see earlier post) is very comfortable, airy and sunny. Mom wanted me to sell my house and move into hers when she left. I was tempted. But after I lost my husband to cancer, I wanted to stay in the home we had built together. I didn’t want to let Mom’s house go, but there was no good solution to keeping it.

The house is located in Alexandria City. If you know the Washington DC area, you know it is convenient to Washington, the Pentagon, Skyline. It is also around the corner from the Alexandria Hospital. (Been there…more than once).

The house will be open this weekend, on Sunday. Here is the realtors link:

Blueberry Bush

Wed, 18 Oct 2006 19:31:00 +0000

Dad planted a blueberry bush when I was a teenager. The blueberry bush became a family project and an on-going battle between the family and the birds. But when we were ahead of the game, I could go into the garden each morning and collect fresh blueberries for my cereal. To keep the birds from getting the blueberries we had to wrap the bush in mesh and tie the mesh to the bottom of the bush. Even then those wily birds would find a way to get through or under the mesh. Every day was a new adventure to see who could get the most blueberries. The blueberry bush is still in place and still produces. But today the berries are left for the birds.

The Tomato Patch

Tue, 17 Oct 2006 23:27:00 +0000

Dad loved to grow tomato plants; my mother loved to drink tea. So over the many years, my Dad collected tea leaves and dug them into the tomato patch behind the house. Forty years of tea leaves have been dug into that tomato patch and my Dad produced bumper crops of tomatoes every year. Mom would give them away to neighbors and friends every year. I always looked forward to tomato season, even after I left home.

Peacock Avenue Azaleas

Tue, 17 Oct 2006 23:26:00 +0000

The house is on the corner and is surrounded by my mother’s azaleas. She started planting the azaleas not long after we moved in. She loved finding new colors, taking cuttings and then planting and nursing the new color of plant. Now, 42 years later when spring rolls around, the sight at the house is unbelievable. The azaleas are about 5 feet tall or more and in every conceivable color.

She also has two gorgeous Camelia bushes in the front. They are amazing!

To see the house, visit the Realtor website:

Dad's Treasures

Mon, 16 Oct 2006 15:39:00 +0000

Dad always said (with a twinkle in his eye) that he didn’t own much, that everything in the house belonged to Betty. As I combed through everything I decided he was right. However I came across some items from his years in the Navy. Dad was a career Naval officer. He met Betty when he was stationed in Charleston, SC after the war. She was a high-spirited, fun-loving party girl and she set her sights on Dad.

I found uniform items from his Naval Academy years including dress tail coat, dress cape, dress sword with sword belt. I also found a dress hat and epaulets that look like they came from a movie set. I’m keeping these items to remember my Dad. I found his medals and all four year books from his Academy days.

Dad died four years ago after a two-year battle with colon cancer. All of us miss him.

There are so many memories in this house!

Old Family Treasures

Mon, 16 Oct 2006 01:48:00 +0000

Mom was the one in her family that treasured old family history and belongings. I found linens from great grandmothers, dresses from a great aunt, genealogical research, old family photos, old family portraits, crystal that had been passed down and more. We are not a large family; what was I going to do with all these treasures? I also found some of Mom’s old dresses from the Jackie Kennedy era. Mom was a “dresser”, she had beautiful clothing and some of her older dresses were masterpieces. I polled family members and heard (what I already suspected) that no one has room in their homes to keep all of Mom’s favorites. It was with a heavy heart that I turned over most of it to the Estate Sale folks. I kept all genealogical research, photos and portraits.

Mom continues to ask me what happened to Aunt Janna’s dresses. She says she used to wear them to costume parties. While most of them went to the Estate Sale, I kept one that reminds me of a flapper dress. I’ll wear it to a Halloween party!

To see the house, visit the Realtor website:

Old Letters

Mon, 16 Oct 2006 01:43:00 +0000

I cleaned out the footlockers in the basement. I found a stack of old letters wrapped and tied with a ribbon. The letters were written by a young man serving in the Army in Europe during World War II. Mom had met Richard while away at college and he was at a local army camp. Richard was smitten by the vivacious, young Betty. He served in Germany, France and Britain. He was wounded in Germany and recuperated in Britain. Betty and Richard corresponded throughout his tour in Europe.

Reading the letters was like stepping back in time. I could picture this young man with his buddies in camps around Europe. He couldn’t say much about the war in the letters, but he expressed his loneliness in each one. I asked Mom about the letters and Richard. She had written to him regularly, but was not smitten like he was. She told me he returned to his home in Pennsylvania and found a local girl to marry. However, she still has fond memories of Richard.

Mom keeps calling me

Fri, 13 Oct 2006 15:06:00 +0000

My mother is in assisted living because she has short term memory loss. She keeps calling me from SC to tell me she needs to come to Alexandria to clean out her house. She can't understand that we have cleaned it out and already contacted the Real Estate agent and listed the house. Poor Mom is getting agitated because she doesn't understand. She can't remember the details long enough to process them, so she keeps going over the same topics. The phone calls are difficult.

I'm going away for the weekend, so no posts until I return.

To see current photos of the house, visit the Realtor's site at:

The house in 1964

Fri, 13 Oct 2006 11:04:00 +0000

We moved to Alexandria in 1964. Even then the housing costs in the Washington DC area were high. My parents decided on the school district they wanted and then looked for the house. They settled on a 3-bedroom rambler with a full basement. Mom would've liked a bigger house, but it wasn't in the budget.

Then in 1985, after the 3 children had grown up and left home, Mom decided to double the size of the house by adding a second story onto the rambler.

My Dad used to say, "Ya know... we're getting older ... the children have gone ... we're slowing down ... so Betty decides to double the size of the house!" (He always said this with a twinkle in his eye. :-)

Actually Betty did such a good job of designing the second story that the original builder complemented her on her design. She added a large master bedroom suite with a large bathroom, a sitting area and a cedar closet. I covet the cedar closet!

To see current photos of the house, visit the Realtor's site at:

My Mom's House

Thu, 12 Oct 2006 14:46:00 +0000

My Mom has moved into Assisted Living. I had to clean out her house and put it up for sale. It has been an emotional journey going through her lifetime of memories and deciding what to do with each one. The journey has also stirred up my own memories of growing up in the house.

The first time I saw the Realtor's For Sale sign in the yard I cried. It didn't seem possible that our lives had reached a point where I had to sell Mom's house.

To see current photos of the house, visit the Realtor's site at:

I'm trying to figure out how to upload a photo of Mom and me.