Home OH The Empty House

The Empty House

by Richie

Empty places and liminal spaces can be unsettling. Or, if it means moving out and moving forward, it can be a thing of joy.


At last my father moved from his house in Ohio (5 hours away) to a new apartment only 10 miles from me. It was easy, it was hard, and it was every emotion in between.

I never lived in that house in Ohio, but my folks were there for 30 years. And, naturally, it was filled to the rafters with things they loved, things they collected, and things they forgot they ever had. A daunting task to empty a big house and prep it for sale.

While it was easy to get my dad moved out (he really didn’t take much), that left me to sift through the remains. Closets full of photo albums, keepsakes, mementos, souvenirs, gifts, finished and unfinished projects. Hard to make so many decisions on what to keep, and what to let go of.

There were lots of treasured items that were important to my folks, but I simply couldn’t take everything home with me. I’ve got my own house full of stuff, after all. And I had to remind myself that what was imperative for my mom to keep didn’t need to be important to me. We had different sentiments and priorities.

Did you ever help a friend move and wonder why they hang on to all that junk? Same with me, except there were a lot of shared memories with my parents’ stuff. Like Grandma’s handmade quilt – I have a dozen already, so this one was mailed to a cousin.

Along with selling furniture, sewing machines, tools, and the other stuff of life, I sold two cars that sat unused in the garage.

I found some hard-working guys to help dispose of the rest. They were fast, unsentimental, and made the job ten times easier for me. Like ripping off a Band-Aid – do it quick and be done with it.

I saved the little notes my folks wrote to each other. Made me smile to think what a sweet life they had together in this house. But Dad’s been by himself for two years since Mom passed, and that kind of loneliness is not good for anybody. The house got harder to keep up, he outlived all his friends, and we have no family in Ohio. Better to move near me so I can take care of him. Even though it meant leaving behind lots of memories.

Finally, all that was left to do was vacuum and dust the empty rooms.

empty house

One last look at the neighborhood and going – going – gone.


The house has been sold. Dad is happy in his new home. And I get to see him every day.  It was lot of hard work, emotionally wrenching and crazy, but everyone is in a much better place now. Turns out an empty house is a thing of joy.



Stephani Bartolotta (Esposito, Ezzo, Mancini) November 28, 2022 - 10:51 pm

There’s nothing more important than family and looking out for one another. Your perspective on leaving the nest empty forever, closing the last chapter and beginning an entirely new book… is not for the faint of heart. I’m happy to see everything has worked out so well for you both having each other. And it made it easier to find my “long lost” cousins! Happy Holidays!

Selina August 2, 2022 - 2:35 am

This touched me Richie. Feelings. So many feelings. The perfect farewell story.

Richie August 2, 2022 - 8:23 am

Thanks, hon. Took a few months to process all those emotions.

Kelly Cook August 1, 2022 - 2:16 pm

That’s a great bittersweet story. We should take dad to belterra for a trip if he is up to it.

Richie August 1, 2022 - 2:37 pm

Lunch at Belterra was our tradition!

Lois August 1, 2022 - 1:45 pm

I am so happy for you now that you are at this stage. I know it took a very long time and so, so much work to get here. You are a wonderful daughter and Tim a great son-in-law. Congratulations on your accomplishment. Your father is most fortunate.

Richie August 1, 2022 - 2:35 pm

Thanks for talking me thru a bunch of meltdowns!

Denise Furnish August 1, 2022 - 1:23 pm

Bless you

Richie August 1, 2022 - 2:33 pm


Beth Daniels August 1, 2022 - 12:15 pm

Oh, yeah. My parents had been in their home since 1966. They not only had their own accumulation, they had stuff from both their parents. Daddy moved on 16 years ago last month and Mom 7 1/2 years ago now. When she died in January 2015 a week before my birthday, I’d been taking care of one or both of them since 2003. They’d taken care of me through my clinical depression in 1999 then my hip replacement in 2002. As the oldest and only girl, and the kid who hadn’t produced children nor kept a spouse, I’d moved in with them and didn’t leave until April 1, 2015, when I had their house totally emptied (the St. Vincent people thought I was kidding when I said a large truck for the donations was needed. It was totally filled when they pulled away that March. I’d had family in two months after I’d gone through every closet and categorized things for them to choose what they wanted. I’d already culled off what I was taking when I moved from Ohio to Kentucky. I had a lot of people ask why I hadn’t kept their house because my brothers were okay with me inheriting everything since I’d been the live in caregiver for so long, but one person does not need a 4-bedroom house with both family room and living room. And frankly, I need to go through the things I kept that are in boxes in closets. I think there’s more I’m ready to get rid of now. It is indeed a relief to have that house clearing out and sale behind you, Richie. Even better to have your dad nearby now, too!

Richie August 1, 2022 - 12:53 pm

That’s a lot to go thru, Beth! Glad you came out the other side in one piece.

Linda phelan August 1, 2022 - 11:35 am

Oh Richie, all that work was a show of love, for sure! We were both blessed with the best parents ever. My parents had already down sized before they both passed and even then there was a lot of stuff but at least it wasn’t an entire house we had to go through. I’m so glad that chapter has closed for you and a new chapter will be so exciting for your dad as well! Love you guys!!!

Richie August 1, 2022 - 11:46 am

Yes, it’s tricky to force a move. But there comes a time…

Barbara August 1, 2022 - 11:30 am

OMG is this familiar! First of all — so glad for you and your dad that you are geographically closer; second — his house reminds me very much of my mom’s and your words (mostly) are an echo of my own of recent months, although more on point. Of course you were fast and efficient (luckily I didn’t have to be) — and what cleaning! — looks like you could eat off every surface! Big congrats all around!

Richie August 1, 2022 - 11:34 am

And congrats to you, too! I was happy to hear your mother’s house sold!

Peggy+Hoffman August 1, 2022 - 11:11 am

Reading this, bittersweet, heart wrenching, transitions to make new memories. Just angst ~ful reminder the letting go that needs to happen so my adult kiddos won’t have to deal with so much when we pass. Thank you SO much for sharing! So glad you have your dad close!

Richie August 1, 2022 - 11:31 am

Whew! Glad that’s over with!

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