We bought our modest little house 28 years ago. We bought it from a family with three young kids. At the time, the house itself was only about 5 years old. When we went to see it, it was messy and filled with toys. There were socks on the floor, if I remember right.
We bought the house. We filled it with our three children. We filled it with two cats, several good dogs and a lot of family and friends. We filled with our lives, messes and all.
Over the years, we haven’t done a lot to change the place. We haven’t had much extra money at any point, so our improvements have been limited to repainting the walls, adding a few new windows, putting our hot tub on the deck.
Slowly but surely, we have also changed the yard. When we moved in, the front yard was guarded by seven towering white pines and one big choke cherry. There were no flower gardens at all. Since then, we have had five of the pines taken down and have added perennial beds, rhododendron, tons of wildly growing forsythia and even a vegetable garden and a strawberry patch.
The yard where our boys used to play baseball for hours has become a fenced in space for the dogs. The rock garden where I once planted little “hens and chicks” has turned into a thriving raspberry and blackberry patch.
Over all these years, our yard has been filled with birthday parties, baseball games, a trampoline, countless piles of leaves and several scarecrows. There was even an ice hockey rink for several winters. Our yard has sported Christmas lights and Halloween pumpkins and even a few May baskets.
But the wheel of time has turned, around and around again.
The house has guarded us as we have aged. It has seen the sadness as the dogs and cats have died off and been replaced by eager, loving puppies. It has seen the children grow from squabbling toddlers to rebellious teens.
It has stayed steadfast and ready when the children eventually moved out. Like me, I believe that the house was waiting for them to come back.
Over these many years, this little house has held in our grief and kept us safe. It has watched us celebrate births and weddings and countless holidays. This little house, set in the middle of our mostly wild yard, has rocked to the sound of music created by our sons and by their friends.
It has held in the wonderful smells of Sicilian Easter Pie and Christmas octopus. Of meatballs and Chinese dumplings and roasting chicken. It’s walls have somehow expanded when the place was filled with young people celebrating the birthdays of our grandchildren. It has always seemed to me that the house itself has loved the times when it has been well and truly filled.
This house has seen its share of abuse, too.
It has been peed and pooped upon by humans and animals alike. It has had chocolate icing smeared on its walls and Southern Comfort regurgitated upon its floors. It once had a child’s hand go right through a pane of glass.
This house is a home.
It might not be elegant, or stylish, or worthy of a photo shoot. But it’s a house whose walls need noise and life and delicious smells and voices and laughter.
I love this middle class, not quite rural place. I love the slightly off kilter walls and the weird little nooks that the builders left in. I have grown to love the narrow closets that barely hold our towels and the spidery garage where we store so many tools.
I love my house. The only house I have ever owned and lived in.
And that’s why Paul and I have decided that when the house falls quiet, it will be time for us to move on. When the children are grown, and the parties have stopped, it will be time to pack our bags.
We love this house.
We don’t want it to fall silent, or to become sad.
When we aren’t cooking dinners here, when we aren’t hosting family and friends, when the music has mostly stopped, then we’ll tell each other that its time.
Time to cut the grass, pull the weeds and get the garden ready for another season. Time to clean out the garage, give away the extra dishes, put the photo albums into a big plastic box and call a realtor.
When the house is quiet and sad, that will be our time. Our time to move on to the next phase, the next step, maybe the last step.
And if all goes according to plan, that will be the time when we sell this funny little house to a young family with loud and messy children and maybe a shedding dog.
We owe this house at least that much.
18 thoughts on “This House”
Wonderful post. You will know when it’s time, just as we did after 37 years at 9 Francine Road in Acton. Our house was filled with memories of happy times, sad times, delicious cooking, wonderful parties, kids growing from pre-schoolers to teens to adults and then grands who loved it and lived here, too, for several months. I loved my house, too, but now love my new (well, 5-years-new) home almost as much. And we’re filling this place with love, laughter and many memories, too…just as you will when you move on. Cheers!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much, Nancye! You are one of the people I think of very often when I think about moving forward and embracing all of my future. I am so so happy to have you in my life!!
What a wonderful reflection of a home well-lived in and enjoyed; and yes, there does come a time to move on, & it’s wise folk indeed who can recognize that time. My elderly Mum has stubbornly stayed in her now-damp & neglected apartment, & it is truly becoming a nightmare for her children & extended family to deal with her decline & home life- I’m so glad you’re not going to inflict that on your family. Bless your loved house 🙏🏼 G
Thanks for understanding! My Mom is still in her home of almost 60 years. It’s where my sibs and I grew up. We are all working hard to keep it up, but it does make me sad to be there. As soon as I walk inside, I remember all the raucous and happy years of my childhood and adolescence there. I think that homes do reflect the life within them, for sure.
LikeLiked by 1 person
That was a beautiful story…brought a lump to my throat and my eyes are all misty.
Thanks, Deb. I’m glad you understand!
Yep … made me cry too. I’m experiencing this now with my mother ….
I’m sorry, Deb! Me, too. The post came from spending a night with Mom (she has broken two bones in her back) and thinking about my kids having to come and see our house when things have changed so much. Sending you hugs and strength!
This is so heart-warming an delightful, Karen. I think you should send it in to the Ojo. People who have done the same to move to Mexico will really identify with us, and most of us have.
Thanks, I will!!!
I can’t imagine YOUR house growing quiet and sad as long as you are still breathing.
I never thought my Mom’s house would become quiet either…I just want to age mindfully, you know? I want to go before the house wants me gone.
One of your best blogs. I felt your feelings and was envious for all the close held memories. I am so happy that my great grandchildren are the recipients of the house full of memories and love. They will have it in their hearts their whole life! Thank you and my love to all of you…
My love back to you, although I don’t know who you are, dear “someone!”
For about a year, I’ve felt a bit ashamed to bring my book club girlfriends to my home as it’s so ‘lived in’ compared to the stylish (and insanely clean) houses they own.
I’ve finally plucked up the courage to offer to host a book club this term, and your post has really encouraged me to focus on the food, love, parties and family life that this home has witnessed. Our home decor budget has been limited by almost 10 years out of regular work for me, both motherhood and illness. But this home has comforted, held grief and soothed children after hospital visits. I love your perspective, thank you xx
And I am so happy to have someone else who understands why my house isn’t stylish and up to date! I hope your bookclub meeting goes well!
LikeLiked by 1 person
This was simply lovely! All my friends are looking at this transition–somewhere within the next 10 years. This next, and probably final, transition will prove to be the hardest, I think.
P.S. I don’t know how one goes about doing this, but I would love to encourage you to submit this to AARP.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, Eleanor! I don’t know how, but will definitely check it out. Funny, part of the reason behind this post was that I’ve been spending a lot of time with my 88 year old Mom, who still lives in the house where we were all raised. So sad all around….I want to be in charge of my own destiny, at least as far as possible!
LikeLiked by 1 person