My mother’s chalkboard

I was a month shy of two years old when my parents moved into the home at 4430 Janesville.

Last month, they moved to a new address. The first time they’ve moved in about 31 years. I’m excited about the move, both for them and for selfish reasons. As an adult full-time wheelchair user, I’ve found their quad-level home to be nearly impossible to manage. So visiting them in a home that has all the main functions including a bathroom, a bedroom living area and the kitchen all on one level will be a blessing.

But for their sake, I know this home will be better insulated, in a newer neighborhood and the windows and fireplaces are amenities I know they wanted. This is going to be a great empty-nesters place for them to live. I can’t help but note that they moved into their former home to raise a family, now with my brother and his wife about to have twins, this new home is where they will be grandparents. It’s a new home, a new era.

Although I’m excited about the new adventure, I have to admit there’s lots of nostalgia about the old house. Years of Christmases, birthdays, Easters and many other special events were spent in that home. That’s where we received our one and only dog, Angel, when I was in elementary school. She lived with my parents until she finally had to be put to sleep at age 17.

I also remember the “hide out” that was in the backyard. It was really just an opening in the evergreens that were along the fence line between our house and the neighbor to the back of us. But my brother and I would use it as our hideout. I’m pretty sure I “ran away from home” a couple of times to that spot!

There’s also the neighborhood that I will always remember. The house is located in a suburb of Wichita, Kan. called Bel-Aire. I used to like to tell people I lived in Bel-Aire, thinking I could trick them into thinking it was the place where the Fresh Prince lived. There was a path of streets my family called the “mile loop” and it was a popular path for my mother to go jogging on and for me to ride my adult-size tricycle. I would take our dog on rides in the basket on the back of that trike.

I think the memory that is sticking out the most right now is my mother’s chalkboard. It was a simple blackboard that she used a wet washcloth to wash whenever needed. She would put messages to us, reminders and other notes on there throughout the month.

But mostly I remember how on each holiday or birthday (which were treated like a holiday in our home), Mom would write a special message to us. It was usually pretty simple, like “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Birthday!” but it was always special. The chalkboard was on the wall above the phone in our kitchen, which is where we spent many family hours.

Sure, it was just a chalkboard. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal back then, although we all looked at it each day. But looking back, I see how it was a central communication point in our lives.

I hadn’t thought much about the chalkboard until my Mom mentioned recently that a family had moved into the home, which my parents are renting out for now. The family has young children and I learned which children were staying in which bedrooms. When they moved in, Mom told them about the little idiosyncrasies of the house.

She also left the chalkboard, and told them stories about how we used it.

I doubt there’s a chalkboard in my parents’ new home but that’s OK. It’s time for new memories, new forms of communication.

I just hope that the new family enjoys that house as much as I did.

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