The last few weeks I have been helping with the final clean up of my grandparents' property getting it ready for the closing date of the sale. The cleanup began in February of last year, and I have been it since the beginning. The property was sizable: 30 forested acres on the foothills of the Coastal Range, with a large main house, the spacious Hill House, a pottery studio with a one bedroom apartment, plus multiple large outbuildings, all filled with Stuff. My grandparents' moved on to the property in 1972 and started building up a small artist commune on the fringe of society, and 5 miles from the closest town. There was so much stuff left from decades of artists coming and going, seminars, classes, tours, and just the lifestyle of the artists in residence. We filled three 30 yard dumpsters. Yeah, stuff.
But until this last week it felt as if the place would always be a family place, part of my history that would always be there for me, with that familiar feel. As the closing date neared, the reality began to hit. This was not going to stay with the family, it was time to let someone else shoulder the responsibility. But the knowledge of what a physical and financial burden the property is, doesn't help me escape the "What if..." fantasies. Over the last year I have rolled so many ideas through my brain, unfortunately, the reality is that they all pretty much start with, "If I had a million dollars." That is the cold hard truth. Brain knows, Heart can't accept it.
Now, the end is here. I didn't find a million dollars. I couldn't come up with A Plan. So the Art Farm now becomes part of the past, and is now the fantasy of a new family, strangers. I can't go and scavenge bricks. I can't wander the place finding random bits of sculpture and pottery to drag home and find a niche for. I can't dig plant starts from the massive perennial garden. I can't wander through the house, with the familiar sights and smells. The house is empty. The sculpture and pottery are mostly gone. The garden will bloom without us. The new family will bring their own decorating style, and it will no doubt suck compared to my Grandmother's eclectic awesomeness. It is time to let it all go. And it is depressing.
I did not sleep well in the days leading up to the end. I had strange dreams and insomnia. I realized that, although it is a relief to pass on the burden, my heart is grieving the loss. I will get past it. I will nurture the plants that I brought home. I will put pottery and sculpture in my own gardens as a visible, daily reminder of Grandma and her awesomeness. I will pass her love of beautiful things to my children and grandchildren, as she did to her children and grandchildren. It is her legacy. Not the house, or the property, but the love of art and beauty, vivid colors, and that surrounding yourself with creativity and art makes for a beautiful life. That truly is her legacy. But I will miss the Art Farm.