In December of 1980 my parents bought the house that I grew up in. On Friday of last week, they put it up for sale.
This has been a long-time coming. My parents have been fixing up the house for over a year. When they started, Mike said to me, “You know they’re fixing it up to sell it, right?” Mike moved a lot as a kid, so he knew all the signs. I tried to be rational and adult about it. It’s a big house for just two people. It was logical to want to downsize.
The home improvements took a while, so I was able to live in a certain amount of denial. But now that the house is on the market and potential buyers have been walking through it, I have to come to terms with the fact that my parents’ house – the house I sometimes slip and call “Home” – won’t be their house for much longer.
I had a really amazing childhood in that house. My parents bought the house when it was being built, and when we moved in the street was filled with young families. Afternoons and summers were spent outside with the other neighbor kids; we’d walk from house to house, ringing doorbells and asking “Can you play?” Then we’d climb the hills in the open space behind the houses, or build elaborate skateboard/cardboard box racers, or play massive games of hide and seek. My parents had the biggest front yard on the street, and it was central to a lot of our activities. It was where I tried to do a handspring and landed on my back. My friends tried to teach me choreographed dances on the lawn (it went as well as the handspring). When we got older, we’d lay on the grass and gossip about our days.
The house has held several generations of our family. My great-grandmother and grandmother also lived in the house, and obviously my own babies have all spent time there. It has also held two weddings, two funeral receptions, a family reunion, a surprise party, an engagement party, some wedding and baby showers, a bazillion swim and birthday parties, and an annual football extravaganza. Countless family holidays have been hosted there. Annabel’s first birthday party was in the backyard, and Madeline’s only birthday party was held there, too.
I could really go on and on about every sleepover, or fight, or milestone achieved in the house, but I’ll stop. I’m an extremely sentimental person, so there’s no point in me chanting “It’s just a house, it’s just a house.” It’s not just a house. Every square inch is flooded with memories, and it’s hard to know that soon I won’t be able to walk into my old bedroom or the room my grandma quilted in. I’m not ready to imagine another family living there.
I do keep chanting “This is good for Mom and Dad,” because it is. They’ll get a house perfectly suited for them, without stairs to climb or a giant lawn to mow. They’ll be able to travel. And their new house might be closer to us, which would thrill Annabel. I know selling was a hard decision for them, but I also know they are excited about the future.
My postpartum hormones are making me especially sensitive, but every time I do something at their house I think, “Is this the last time I’m going to do this?” and then I get teary. It’s going to be an emotional time and I just have to give into it, and enjoy the “last times” as they come.