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Sounds of children’s lives echo through nearly empty bedroom

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I’m sitting in a nearly empty bedroom in our home.

Phoebe (also known as Daughter No. 3) is using Chloe’s old bedroom as a college-move “holding tank.” Phoebe moves to Anderson University tomorrow and has weeded out the clothes she is taking versus the “bless someone else” donation pile.

Near the door lie two tubs and a box. One 18-gallon tub is bright red with a green top — originally purchased to store Christmas decorations. For a moment, I try and remember what I had packed in that tub that made only a four-week appearance in December every year. I can’t remember, but it was obviously something I thought was important enough to save and store.

Lifting some of the top clothing items in the red tub, I noticed Phoebe has packed her one-piece, footy, zebra pajamas — the ones that made her squeal with delight when she received them for Christmas last year and wore to snowy, early-morning swim practices.

In a light-gray tub Phoebe packed a small gray desk-lamp that Chloe sold her for 53 cents, a picture frame made by Chloe’s housemates at the Indiana University Christian Student Fellowship House and an extra twin-sheet set from Chloe’s undergrad years. Chloe also “sold” Phoebe a comfy, round dorm chair, blue shower caddy and an electric hot water teapot for a grand total of $1.13.

I’m fairly certain selling those high-end items helped Chloe and Michael Tillman pack their trailer more efficiently last weekend for their four-year move to St. Louis to start chiropractic school.

The only sound I hear is the ticking ceiling fan. Tomorrow the room will be more space-abundant, except for the radio/iPhone speaker that Phoebe sold me for 13 cents. I told her that I would probably move my writing desk back upstairs because I like to look out into the backyard when I write — that way I can scout for deer while writing.

A few things remain. In the closet is a light-blue, four-story Victorian playhouse that Chloe bought with months of hard-earned chore money. Three maroon high school graduation caps and gowns hang separately but in unison. There is a 50-state commemorative quarters booklet, which has the quarters released since 1999 but is missing the ones from 2006 to 2008.

A meticulously kept ivory and pink little girl’s china tea set sits on the shelf next to a worn pink plastic tea set.

“Maybe I’ll paint the walls and refinish the wood floors,” I think.

As the ceiling fan clicks, I can almost hear the laughter of my toddlers jumping up and down in their baby beds echo in the hollow room.

And so it goes.

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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