Going Forth


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?


Author: jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer

7 thoughts on “Going Forth”

  1. Ah… I think that might be my song too. Granted, we’ve only owned our home for three years, but at 100-years-old this year, I think the memories are there.

    Not to take too much from your post, our stake president recently told us a story about his home. It’s about the same age, and he’s owned it for many years, but he once noticed that there was a definite sag in the middle of the living room. As it turned out, the grandsons of the guy who built the home (and had since died) ended up in our stake president’s ward, and he asked them. Their answer: Oh that was the time grandpa decided to make a larger workshop in the basement, so he cut out all the support beams. Then they started to tell our stake president about the time grandpa had decided to use dynamite (not even kidding) to blow a hole through the basement wall so that he could have a door to the outside.

    At this point, our stake president asked them to stop talking.

    The house still stands (after some serious reinforcing done by our stake president). I love old homes, and if the time ever comes to leave our tiny home, it’ll be a sad day. I’ll miss it all, even the things I’d give just about anything to fix.

    I miss it, sure, but it was time to move on. If and when that time comes for you, you'll know it.

  2. I know I will always have fond memories of family get togethers in that house and the love felt within those walls! Without the people though, it is simply a house; everyone made it a home! We will always carry those memories and that love with us no matter where we go; the legacy continues!

    Amen, Carrie. I couldn't have said it better myself.

  3. I adore your new house…have fond memories of 511…after all that is where our friendship was first nurtured!

    Remember Heather's shower? That was fun, wasn't it? I remember seeing a couple of people there that I didn't even know or remember coming in. Yet they felt perfectly comfortable there too.

  4. P.S. when did you change the banner? Sigh…New York, New York…

    I changed it yesterday. When I was browsing through the NYC pictures, I came across this one and noticed La Mela on the left, and that's a restaurant that we (the people I'm going back to the big city with next week) decided to eat in one evening. I was kind of shocked and pleased to see it in my photos. When are we going????

  5. “Sanding, painting, caulking, stripping wallpaper, retiling floors, redoing cabinets, building an island…he did it all.”

    My husband, too, has been deeply involved with making our first house a home. Whenever I start to get annoyed with his lack of tidiness, I remember just how much work he is putting in to make my dream come true.

    I seriously had no IDEA how much would be involved with getting the garden setup, but once he started he was totally committed to getting it done. I treasure that.

    Thank you for sharing this!! Since I’ve never lived in a home like that (except for my year in foster care) it reaffirms my faith that we can create that for our family.

    I know you've heard this quote (because you're smart and are a voracious reader), but I'm going to repeat it anyway. "You buy a house but you make a home." Sounds like that's what you and Chris are doing.

  6. my wife’s mom’s home just sold and the relaator made an oil painting of it that now stands in our home over our new upstair’s 4000 dollar fireplace insert

    Sound beautiful.

  7. This is a wonderful thought. It really makes me think about my attitude towards where I’m living. We have been living here with one foot out the door all year long, thinking about when we’d buy a house. A couple of weeks ago we decided to get out of debt completely (good bye student loans!) instead of buy right now and wait a couple of years. One of the thoughts I had was that the Lord wants us to just be happy where ever we are in our lives.

    And speaking about where we are in our lives, I’ve added your daughter’s blog to my reader finally! Thanks for the info.

    I like your thought about the Lord wanting us to be happy where ever we are in our lives. While I think He gives us hopes and dreams, He also wants us to live, truly LIVE, in the present.

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