Today, fill your cup of life with sunshine and laughter.

07 June 2009

Home Is Much More Than A House

It was inevitable. My parents are of an age (and have been for some time now) when their very large Victorian-era home is simply too much for them. Between the yard work and the housework, my 80-something Dad and my "39-year old" Mom (she has been 39 for nearly 40 years now, by my calculations) have been struggling for years now and I, with my full-time work, single-parent status and home of my own, haven't been as much help as they need. There was a simple solution, although none of us is happy about it. Our ancestral home is to be sold.

To that end, last month I went to my parents' home with my cheap little digital camera and took numerous photos of the interior and exterior of the home in which we all grew up. My parents have been a solidly rooted fixture in the community where I now am employed as a teacher for more than 50 years. They are part of the reason I returned to teach in the village where I grew up - the first 25 years of my life was intrinsically woven into the fabric of that place and the people who live there. That house was my only home until I finished university and got my first permanent job.

It will be both a wrench and a relief for my parents to move into the seniors apartment building they have chosen. I know there will be a period of adjustment, more for my Dad than my Mom, I suspect, as he was always tinkering in his garage with one thing or another, and he loved going down to the coffee shop every day to sit and chat with his buddies, or to the Kiwanis Center to help out with one of the various projects. I suspect he will be spending a lot of time here in my garage looking for things to do ... I'm already compiling a list (:D).

So back to the house ... I emailed the photos to my brother and he put it on Kijiji Moncton to sell. My Mom wasn't convinced that she would be able to sell it online, but in the two weeks that it's been on Kijiji, they have received over 120 calls, had 48 visits and 2 offers. This Thursday, they will find out if the first offer has gone through.

This is my way of saying goodbye to a house that is far more than a home. It means family and security and friendship and tradition and memories. When I walk into my childhood home, it's a foregone conclusion that my Mom's crosswords or sudoko will be spread out on the kitchen table, lit by the warm golden sunlight that streams in through all the big windows, that somewhere in the house, music will be playing, and my Dad will be sitting in his chair, surrounded by stacks of books, reading - just as things have always been. I can still picture my grandmother standing in the kitchen, even though she has been gone for 20 years now. I can hear my grandfather's big belly laugh in the familyroom, yet his voice was silenced over 30 years ago now. I remember sitting on my bed under the sloped ceiling as a child, as a teen, as a young adult, sharing confidences with my best friends, playing the game of "what if". We still giggle about learning to dance in the big empty playroom directly over the kitchen and my Mom complaining about plaster dust all over the countertops. My brother and I reminisce about the summery Friday nights when my parents allowed us to host pool parties and the music was so loud that people across the river in Pre d'en Haut could hear it and would dance on the dock and set off fireworks for our mutual enjoyment - friends we had never met yet with whom we shared wonderful memories while growing up, or the times we hosted pizza parties or craft circles or Saturday night dances for the church Youth Group. I remember with considerable less fondness than my brother the smell of sauerkraut on Friday nights, Saturday night wrestling matches and the times he would torture me as I practiced my piano lessons under the stairs in the front room. We recall tv dinners on foil plates, homemade baked beans in Gram's old brown crock, the smell of fresh-baked bread on Saturday mornings and Bugs Bunny on Saturday evenings. The porch glider is still there and still a congregating place for company, even in winter. Holidays meant a houseful of people - family and friends and even the occasional stranger who had nowhere to go for the holiday. We had room for everyone, it seemed. No one has ever been turned away from my parents' hospitality. I wonder where will we all go now?


Travis said...

This was wonderful to read. Your family filled that place with memories that will echo forever. And I'm sure the new family will add more of their own.

Bond said...

I have such fond memories of our family home which my parents sold years ago. I have been by it twice and shook my head at the things new owners have changed.

Wonderful recap of a truly blessed childhood.

Meribah said...

My mom felt the same way about her family home. When her parents died, one of her sisters got the house, but rented it out, so that was the end of family gatherings there.
Anyway, your ancestral home is beautiful, Coco! Sorry to see it leaving the family, but change happens. Fortunately, when one chapter of our lives ends, another begins. Hugs.