Miranda Lambert has a song– “The House That Built Me.” While I always thought it was a lovely tune, never before has it resonated with me so deeply.
My childhood home is about to belong to another family.
It was my home for almost my entire life. With the exception of living other places for short periods of time for school and internships, this was my permanent address until I bought my own home in 2009.
This house began as just a small little saltbox, essentially the two windows and front door side on the left of the picture. Our family moved in when I was just a year old. As we grew up, the house grew, with the right side addition, then another addition on the back, and so on.
The house, as any does, has stories to tell– the mudroom addition on the far end that my father and grandfather built together, followed a few years later by the shed in the backyard. How we didn’t have front steps on the house for a good decade. The jungle gym and swings my brother, our friends, and I played on for so many years. The 4 x 4s in the basement where my Dad tracked our heights ( mostly David’s rapid growth!) and we marked our friends when they came over too. The pool we used to have in our backyard or the snowmen we would make. The many holidays and events that happened in this house- everything from our big, loud Thanksgivings to our normal Sunday family dinners. Prom and wedding photos were taken here. Lazy afternoons talking and enjoying drinks on the back patio with the terrific breeze a house on a hill provides. My brother and father did so many home improvements together, and after my father died, my brother and Q continued that tradition.
The house was more than just a place to lay our heads every night- it was a true home in every sense of love and comfort that resonates with that word. It was the place we gathered every.single. night as a family of four to eat dinner together, no matter how quick the meal or fancy the occasion. The dining room table was the spot of endless amounts of laughter and disagreements over words in Scrabble. Our house was the fifth family member as it provided the spot where so much of our lives took place.
It’s not easy to say goodbye to the place where so much happened, a spot where friends and extended family often called home too. My parents are remembered by so many kids in the neighborhood– and even their kids now– as the house that gave out BlowPops for Halloween. We had amazing neighbors and it was a great place to grow up.
But, as life happens, things change, and decisions must be made. I fully support my mother’s decision to downsize after the loss of my father not just because it’ll make things easier for her and have us worrying a little bit less, but because it’s on her terms and really, on my brother and mine too. It would break my heart all over again if we had been forced to sell in the future because my mother was ill or something bad occurred. This big life change happened because we all agreed it would be best. There was some early talk of Q and I moving in with her, selling my house and trying to make it work for the three of us there, but for many reasons, it wasn’t the right decision.
Over the summer, a few weeks before my Mom made the decision to sell, she had the perfect thing to say about the house. My brother and sister-in-law decided after their small, intimate, family only wedding in Vermont to have a large celebration for our extended family and friends at Mom &Dad’s. Mom said that it seemed almost perfect– that she and my father had raised us and put us out to the world, and having the wedding celebration was almost like the perfect ending to the house as a way to close off that part of life. It seemed too sad for words at the time, but as I walked through the empty house one last time yesterday, that’s all I could think of as I walked through.
A young family are the new owners and it’s their first home, similar to the situation that my parents were in some 32 years old. They even share the same profession as my mother, so it feels like the universe and fate got this one right. While I don’t think I’ll be doing any drive bys to check on it in the near future, I know this place will become an important chapter in the life of the next family who inhabits it.