Hang with me on this one. Although I might not have my ideas exactly ordered and clear, I do have some thoughts to share about homes, families, responsibilities, and so forth. And I think the stuff I’m thinking about is probably something most people can identify with.
A couple of weeks ago, DH and I sold the home that we bought from my siblings nearly eight years ago, the home my parents purchased in the late 1960s. Originally a parsonage for FBC, the house had a lot of history before they bought it and afterwards….well, let’s just say if they could talk, those walls would tell quite a story or two. We all loved it there. The high ceilings, the wood floors, the loooonnnnggg hall that went right down through the center of the house, the front porch with its chairs and swing, the floral wallpaper in the hall…everything.
When my father died in October of 1998, my friend June gently touched my arm and said, “There’s a lot of love in this house. I can feel it.” How right she was. It was that palpable. After we lost my mother two years later, none of us really visited the home too often…too sad, too many memories. When I decided to move back home, however, DH and I decided to buy it, and for over a year, he worked like a Trojan getting it “just right.” Sanding, painting, caulking, stripping wallpaper, retiling floors, redoing cabinets, building an island…he did it all.
We lived there happily for five years, and then experiencing a “scrounged up” feeling from living downtown, we decided to move to an older suburb, one with rolling hills and curves and trees and lots of privacy. The only trouble in Paradise is that we didn’t have a buyer for 511. Sure, we had lots of interested people, but something always seemed to happen. Finally, the right couple came along, and even as I write this, they are busy making the house uniquely their own.
Sunday in church one of the stake leaders told a story about seeing the home in which he had grown up. Uninhabited, it had fallen into a state of disrepair, and he thought of how great it would be to purchase the house and restore it to its original best. Reluctantly, he realized that the likelihood of that happening was pretty dismal. However, he began to think of all the wonderful things that had gone on within the home, all of the great lessons that had been taught, the tears that had been shed, the laughter that echoed throughout the dwelling, and the people who had gone forth from the house.
He went on to talk about how he and his brothers had served missions and were now all married and raising children. All of these people, including their children, were affected by what went on within the walls of that now abandoned home. He realized that although the house was important, what was more important was what came from it. I had one of those “aha” moments because I realized that he was singing my song, in a manner of speaking.
511 Chesnut (yes, without the t) sheltered us for decades, and we all have fond memories of the happenings there. We even have memories and thoughts of the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the structure itself. The front door was always a struggle to open, and even now I can see my mother sort of pressing against it and lifting the knob at the same time. We always joked about how you had to put a little hip motion into it.
But what’s important is what came from the house and what we all took from it. Four adult children and their children are living better lives because of lessons learned there…and love shared. As I told Elizabeth the other day, the memories of 511 are in our hearts and psyches, and regardless of who lives there, the house is forever part of us.
The picture above says it all. Can you see the light burning in the window? What does it say about coming in out of the cold?