Several decades ago, my parents moved from their rented house in Cape Elizabeth to their new home in Gray. They arrived in a torrential downpour with a loaded moving van, kids and numerous pets, and were met with a disconcerting scene. The previous owners were still in the house, sitting at the table eating a leisurely breakfast and drinking coffee. They had not packed anything.

After only a slight delay, Cheryl A. Stringer had an uncomplicated move into the home in New Gloucester where she and her husband have lived for nearly 25 years. Photo courtesy of Cheryl A. Stringer

My parents were understandably livid, but their generosity under the circumstances was admirable. After carrying their possessions inside, my mother and father helped the other family to pack up and used their van to move the former residents several towns over to their new house.

Nineteen years later, my husband and I were preparing to move from our apartment to our new home in New Gloucester. I was so thrilled at the prospect of a house of our own that I had most of our belongings packed up a couple of months before the move, before we had even closed on the house.

We closed on a Thursday afternoon. At midnight, the house was ours. On Friday morning we both headed to work. I had two housecleaning jobs to do. Before I left, I threw a few boxes of household items into the car, because I wanted to get started moving in as soon as possible.

I passed by our new house on the way to my morning job. There it was! And the keys were in my purse! Pride of possession filled my heart. After a long morning, I drove to my afternoon account. My clients, a sweet elderly lady and her retired schoolteacher daughter, were lovely people to work for at any other time. But wouldn’t you know, that day the daughter asked me, “Could you stay an extra hour to do a few more things?”

She was such a genuinely kind person. I said yes, a smile frozen on my face. I’m sure she had no idea that, on the inside, I was screaming. “No, no, no! Not today, not on moving day! Arrgghh!”

The next hour was a protracted agony. Finally, I made my escape. But when I pulled into the driveway of our house, a car was parked there, and a woman was loading items into it. Talk about déjà vu.

When she saw me, she was startled and embarrassed. The house had been rented, and she was one of the previous tenants. She told me of the difficult time she’d had finding a new place to rent. As I listened, I calmed down. She was in a tough spot. This was different from my parents’ experience. I helped her load her car, wished her well and waved as she drove off. The look of relief on her face was worth the additional hour I had to wait to fully claim our new home.

I was there until midnight, cleaning and organizing. Several days later, we moved in. This fall, we will have lived here for 25 years.

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