Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"The house where we used to live. . . "

This is our "old house".

When Dan and I moved into this house on A Street, 16 years ago, we had one child, a large dog and two cats. We were "expecting" our second child.

Since then, we lost the cats and acquired two more children. Other pets have come and gone, but I won't go into that subject again.

For our kids, this is the first time that they'll experience having a "new" home. Joe was only three when we moved here, and as much as I would like to think he remembers his first home and the bedroom I decorated with teddy bears and fire engine wall border and matching comforter, well, now he tells me, he doesn't have much memory of the house at all!

Having an "old" house and a "new" house to draw on for family memories, will round out our history a bit, adding texture to the years and depth to our experiences together. There are so many reasons that I shall remember this house with fondness. It is here that we brought two babies home. With Luke we learned that love grows and multiplies as new family members are added. Besides loving each child just because they're who they are, we love them for the big brother they become or because they are the newest and most tender member of the family. When Emily was brought home, our friends decorated our front yard with pink streamers and balloons. The house that seemed so big when we first moved in, seemed to hug us a little tighter, but we were so busy we didn't seem to notice at first.

When I think back to the old house, I'll think of all the birthday parties and christenings and graduations and even a wedding reception, that filled our home. The happiness of these occasions isn't visible like the bookcases that Dan built for the family room or the new oak banister and railings he put in to replace the dark, boring wood slates. But the happy times make the house shine as much as the physical renovations that we did, like the remodeled kitchen that opened up the house and let in the sunlight.

I think about the things my kids will remember about our "old" house. I suspect that living across the street from where the city's fireworks display was set off every fourth of July will be something they won't forget. They'll remember when we found a house three doors down for some of our best friends. A path was worn between our houses and the kids considered both places home. They'll remember the year that Joe fell out of the tree in the backyard and broke his arm; riding to the library on their bikes; "birdsitting" for the retired couple next door and the time Mom let the bird out and it flew away; sitting on the neighbor's roof across the street and watching the fireworks in the next town; the hamster buried in the back yard; Dad building the play fort in the back yard; Luke testing the accuracy of the police department's portable speed monitor with his pitching prowess -- and the ensuing confession for having broken the glass. I suspect they'll have secrets of their own that I won't know about for years, like the way they fixed up a secret hideaway under the basement stairs, behind all the boxes that stored Christmas decorations, camping gear and old tax files. It was in cleaning the basement that we found a number of things that had gone "missing" -- flashlight, games, blankets and pillows.

I hope they have lots of fond memories of Christmases and sledding in the park near our house. Of the blizzards that piled the snow so high they could jump from a certain part of the roof and land safely. Of the town's annual parade starting off at the end of our street. Knowing that the local pool had opened from the sound of shouts and laughter that floated across the open space.

There'll be some things that I won't miss. Yelling at the kids to turn down the volume on the TV because the family room and my computer are located right next to each other. The way the basement door and the garage door open into each other, and how it never fails that someone comes in through the garage just as I'm coming up the stairs with a full basket of laundry.

But I will miss the huge cottonwood trees in our front yard, and the view from the bay window in the living room where I can watch the trees change with the seasons. I'll miss the way I can sometimes still feel my mother's presence in this house, because she was here so often when my kids were small. The last conversation we had together, I was sitting in the rocking chair in the living room, chatting with her on the phone, and noticing how the trees outside were beginning to sprout their tender new leaves. I'll miss the memory garden that I planted for her in my back yard. But I will take some of the plants to my new home. And I'll take a clipping from my grandmother's rose bush that I started from just a clipping years ago when we moved in here. I'll plant it in my new garden and it will carry some of the memories from our old house. And beside it, we'll plant new things to go with the new memories that we'll grow in our new home.


Jen said...

I love this post so much. I know what you are going through as we did it last year at this time. So many emotions....the memory garden is so sweet and may be the hardest thing you leave....

Trailboss said...

Great post. My son remembers places we lived while in Texas. I rented there and he used to refer to them as the "brown" house, or "yellow" house etc. I doubt he thinks of things like that now since he is having such trouble w/drugs. Someday we will have more conversations of 'remember when'. They are healthy I think.

Now, you're off to your new house to make all new memories.

Robin said...

We lived in an old run-down parsonage for 12 years - it was really the only house my kids had known. When we built our own brand-new house I was so excited. But they weren't. To this day they say they want to buy the parsonage to use as a vacation house! I don't miss it one bit.
Kids are so funny!
I am excited for you as you embark on this new adventure in your lives.

BClark said...

You need to print this post out and put it in a scrapbook along with pictures pertaining to the house. I bet in later years the kids would love going through it.

Good luck with your move and creating new memories. Don't forget to take pictures of your mountain view. Barbara

gail@more than a song said...

Such a sweet post Karen, I loved reading it! That's the hard part of leaving is having all those memories of a place; we live in the only house my kids remember and when we talk about moving they about lose it! Sort of like what Robin said! Kids!
It will be exciting moving into another place and making new memories.

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

Oh Karen, what a beautiful post. You made me feel a little homesick for the old place, and I've never even been there!


Tristi Pinkston said...

The thing they'll remember the most is the love, and you can take that with you wherever you go!

justabeachkat said...

Wow Karen! What a beautifully written post about a house that was filled with family and love.


Bill said...

This is such a heartfelt and well-composed post. It makes me nostalgic for the home where I gre up in Virginia Beach.
Still, I was so happy for my parents when they moved, and built a beautiful retirement home in the mountains. There are many happy memories of their new home, as well.
I'm looking forward to reading about the memories you build at your new home!