Our nation to experience transition

October 21, 2012 

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- It’s a beautiful time of year to be in Northern Virginia. The leaves on the trees are beginning to burst into fall colors, and every time I visit our nation’s capital, even in an election year, the District is full of vibrancy. It helps that Congress is out of town on the campaign trail.

Soon, this city will undergo a transition. It doesn’t matter if President Barack Obama wins re-election or not, this city and our nation will experience transition. But that’s not why I’m here.

I started to tease and say I came to Washington, D.C., to have lunch with the president, and in fact I did, just not the president of the United States, but the president of the United States Institute of Peace, former Macon Mayor and congressmen Jim Marshall. He transitioned into that position last month. It is a very big job with global reach -- and implications for a better world. But that’s not really why I’m here, either.

I’m here to help my in-laws, James and Kay, transition from a home they’ve known for the past 42 years and move to Macon.

When we talk about this kind of transition, let’s be honest. I was not looking forward to this trip. I knew the transition was necessary. My wife, Pamela, knew, too. Even my in-laws knew the transition was necessary -- we’ve known for a few years, dad’s 81 and mom is 79.

When they were more spry, back in 1970s, the 25 steps from the sidewalk to the front door at a grade that would rival some steps at the Great Wall of China were no big deal. It’s a big deal now. And while both are in great shape, we want them to stay that way. And yes, it does snow in Northern Virginia, making that climb and descent even more perilous.

So what could be the issue, everyone is in agreement, right? Well, not exactly. Timing (otherwise known as delay tactic No. 1). We wanted the move to occur before winter. Dad was content to spend another winter on that hill.

They are both wise people. We couldn’t just lay down the law and tell them what to do, so we had to employ a different tactic: Patience. It was a game of chess. One small move at a time.

First move, we got them to agree to talk to a real estate agent. If I do say so myself, this was as brilliant a move as the Queen sacrifice that ended the match between Paul Morphy and Duke Karl in 1858.

Through a little research, I knew about what their home would be worth on the market. They live in one of the most sought after neighborhoods in the suburbs of Washington. Right off Interstate 66 that flows into the district. It’s a short ride (depending on traffic) to one of the hottest shopping areas in the region, Tyson’s Corner.

The agent and her also agent husband arrived, and it was like old school reunion. She and her husband and my wife went to Marshall High School (“Remember the Titans”) at the same time though in different classes. My in-laws knew their parents and the couple still lived in the Pimmit Hills neighborhood.

Then came the pièce de résistance. They told my in-laws that now was the time to sell, the expected price and the time frame for selling. All were positive. There is a good chance that Macon will have two more residents before Christmas.

Now the hard part. As I write this we are sifting through the memories of a lifetime, deciding what to keep and move and what to toss. That’s something I don’t want to rush. I remember the words of the 1991 No. 1 hit by Boys II Men, “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”

“I thought we’d get to see forever

But forever’s gone away

It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.”

Memories are fragile and delicate. We want to keep as many as we can, and that takes patience and time.

Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraph’s editorial page editor. He can be reached at (478)744-4342 or via e-mail at crichardson@macon.com.

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