After a few false starts, this sign finally went up in the front yard of my childhood home:
I’ve tried to soak up as many last moments in the house as I could, but it was always going to be impossible. We had one last summer, but I wanted another fall…another winter…another new year. I still can’t bear to think that a week from today, the house will belong to someone else.
My parents don’t have a new house yet, so they’re putting most of their stuff in storage this week. I really wanted to spend one more night in my old room before it became someone else’s. And it turns out, Annie really wanted to join me.
I set her up in her sleeping bag, and after reading me a story, she rolled over and (eventually) went to sleep.
While Annie slept beside me, I closed my eyes and remembered the different ways I’d decorated the room through the years. I thought about the dozens of sleepovers I’d had in there, and how perfect it was that the last one was with my daughter.
In the morning, I was reminded how much I’d hated that my window faced east when Annabel woke up the very second the first bits of light were visible. Luckily, my dad is an early riser, so Annie hung out with him while I had some alone time. I wasn’t able to go back to sleep; instead I cried and let myself be sad. At one point I went to write my name on the wall in the closet (like I always do), but I saw that Younger Heather had beaten me to the punch.
When I pulled myself together, we all had breakfast in the backyard.
I put my feet in the pool for the last time.
My brother suggested that we walk through the house and talk about our favorite memories in each room. It was nice to reminisce about everything from old furniture and wallpaper to our grandparents who’d lived with us. Each time we moved onto another room I thought, “This is it…the last time I’ll ever be in this room.”
Before Kyle and I left, we went into our old rooms and just looked out the windows. I took pictures so I could always look at the view. I remembered the way the sun used to reflect off the pool and dance across my bedroom ceiling. I loved that my bestie Tara only lived three houses away, and from my room I could often hear her and her sister Erin when they played in their own backyard.
That house was a wonderful gift from my parents. I dreamed and felt safe there. I brought all my children there, I loved and laughed and celebrated and cried and really lived under that roof. I hope that Mike and I can create a home that Annabel and James feel just as attached to. As sad as it makes me to know we’ll no longer make memories in the house, it means that our house will now be central in my children’s memories. If we are half as happy in our house as we were in my childhood home, we’ll be successful.
Valerie W. says:
Awwwww, so bittersweet! So many memories, the good, bad, and everything in between.I can’t imagine the day my childhood home in NY is no longer “mine.” I’ve moved far away, and lived in so many places, but it’s always been my “home base” to safely return and feel like a kid again. Best wishes to your parents as they move on, and to you as well, as new and wonderful memories await. A childhood home is temporary (thinking of the kids who move around all the time…) but the memories will never leave you!! Much love to all!!
Val in Ohiooooo
A very touching post. There is no doubt that you and Mike have already made a happy and loving family home for your children.
OMG, this post has me crying hysterically – so beautifully written! I love my childhood home and though my parents still live in it, I know one day that will not be the case. My heart will break when that day (knock wood, it doesn’t happen for many, many years)comes and the rush of memories will assault my brain and my heart, leaving me with little room to breathe.
I know how you feel. My parents sold their home in 2006 (I was newly married at 24). I had always thought they’d live there forever and I’d take my (still non exsistent) kids up there to see my old room, they’d nap on my old bed, etc…it was very sad. We didn’t have tons pf great memories there, it was just the only home I’d known and I loved the neighborhood. In 2011, my husband and I bought our own home. It’s a starter home as NYC is crazy expensive but in about 8-10 years, we hope to buy our dream home that we live in forever.
Glad you had one last good visit there.
Love that your last sleep over in your childhood room was with Annie!! So glad that you and your brother went through the house together. Good luck to your parents with the move. xo
Oh, Heather — a lovely post. I’m getting ready to move out of my childhood home for the first time in just a few weeks — and straight into the home I will share with my very soon-to-be husband. I don’t know if that’s where we’ll welcome our first child or a home as yet to be determined, but this post made me feel nostalgic both for what is and what will still be.
What an awesome way to honor that beautiful home.
I’m so glad you got to say goodbye to your childhood home. That is amazing and you will always have those good memories to hold on to. I’m 40 and still miss the house I grew up in. I didn’t get to say goodbye and the last time I was in the house I didn’t know they were selling it. It’s always made me so sad not to have that closure. You will be able to move on now and smile when you think of that house.
Your post brought tears to my eyes. I spent my childhood moving around a lot, so it’s been so very easy to let go of my parents homes with each move. (I would write my name in sharpie (!), at the inside base of a bathroom cabinet, hoping that my initials/dates would forever remain.) But when it came time for my grandparents to sell their homes, the source of my childhood memories, and essentially my ‘home base’ for my life it was always so much harder. Your post honored the home your parents created for you and your brother, the memories and moments made there will be cherished and the last family night there was a perfect way to say goodbye.
Same for me! I still have dreams about my grandparents’ house, it’s like my subconscious is always trying to get back there.
Gina F. says:
This, exactly! We moved to so many different homes during my childhood, I wasn’t particularly attached to them. However, this week my last grandparent, my beloved 93 year old grandmother, passed away, and with her went the only house I knew for all 38 years of my life. I can’t believe how much it gutted me to walk through it one last time–I just kept replaying all of the memories over and over. Even if I was only there once or twice a year, I loved having that home base, and in some ways it feels like my childhood is now officially over, even though I know it finished long ago. My only solace is now I can make the home my daughter will cherish in her memories forever. This post was beautifully written and I’m still crying!
Oh Gina, I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother! My condolences. Grandmas are the best. xoxo
I never had a “childhood home” because we moved around a lot, but it’s something I always wished I had — for precisely the reasons you mention above. I can’t even imagine the sadness now, but at least you have a brother you can reminisce with, who remembers it as you do.
Aww this post made me sooo sad. I cant imagine how you are really feeling right now!! Hugs
Amy C says:
Okay, now I’m crying. I know that once my childhood home gets sold I will do something like this. Your childhood home is not only a house but a part of you forever.
OMG I am crying right now. My parents sold the house I grew up in when they divorced while I was in college and I still mourn that loss to this day. It’s given me a huge desire to have “that house” for my kids. We are under contract and close on Friday. I hope it’s the house my kids love like I loved mine and you loved yours.
Hugs to you. I know some would think it’s silly to feel so emotional about a house but I totally get you.
Donna P says:
What a lovely post, Heather, and I hope the inscription by Young Heather in the closet stays there forever. It looks like a lovely house and you are so lucky to have grown up in California. Best of luck to your folks on their move. I’m sure it’s both a sad and exciting time for them as well.
What a sweet post! Your parents must feel so happy to know that they gave you such a wonderful childhood in that house!
I’m feeling very emotional as I read this. I am 57 and my mother still lives in the house she and my father bought the year before I was born (my dad lives a couple of miles away in a nursing home). Mom will be 90 in a few months. I know the day can’t be far away when we’ll all have to say good-bye to the place. I get choked up thinking about it. It’s a fairly small house, built before 1900, set on a large urban lot. I’m guessing whoever buys it will tear it down and build two or three houses on that lot. In a way, I’m hoping they will, so it can just live on in my memory in the way my family left it. I’m sure I will weather the change when it comes as I’ve weathered many changes in my life. If this is one of the results of having a happy childhood, I can live with it.
I know just how you feel. After our mom died (my father was already deceased), my sister and I had to sell our childhood home. I was seven years old when my parents bought the house brand new; my sister spent her entire life there until she got married. We were both so sad to sell it. I still go by there all the time since I live on the block behind it. The new owners have it so junked up with various flowers and plants that it just isn’t the same. The owner invited me to come over and see how they changed the inside of the house, but I politely declined. Sniff.
jill (mrschaos) says:
I think that’s why I have so much guilt about having a few different homes since becoming a parent. My girls don’t have that connection to a home like I do.
Although, I think this home we’re in now will start to be that for them. That helps.
Oh this made me teary. I’d lived in about 30 houses by the time I turned twenty, we moved so (irritatingly) much.
What a huge gift that house was, to your family. I bet the next people love it just as much.
I had no idea it was so easy to he attached to your childhood home until mine was almost gone. After my mom died, my dad had no reason to stay in a home he always felt was too small. When he said he wanted to move, I panicked. It was my home. It was my mom. And the thought of it being gone tore me up. As it worked out, my dad sold the house to my brother. And while I don’t visit the house often, I’m happy knowing it’s still being occupied by family.
Hugs to you. Those pictures will be treasured.
My sisters and I were just talking about this on Facebook. It’s so sad to see parts of our childhood go away. I wish I could tell you it gets easier but there are days it really sucker – punches me.
A moving post, and a testimant to the tremendous childhood your parents provided. Thank you for the reminder of what I am striving for with my own children.
Hahaha! Oh, I am all verklempt! We moved from my first home when I was three and a half and my mom sold my second home when I 28. Not you full 33 years of but granted still a decent amount of time. When I visit ‘home’ I sometimes take an extra long walk and cross through my old neighborhood, and I always drive past my old childhood home and idle in front like a stalker.
I do the same with my maternal grandparents’ former home 3 1/2 miles away… but I ALWAYS get teary there. Getting lumpy just thinking about it Oh those are some awfully powerful memories of amazing and gone-forever days.