When people say it’s just a house, I wonder about their sense of feeling and attachment.
And maybe, in this moment, I envy their perspective.
Today, my childhood home was demolished. Not only my childhood home, but five generations of babies, toddlers, adolescents, teenagers, adults and autumn years. The history was so rich with life and love, heartaches and pain.
During World War II, my grandmother rented rooms and ironed shirts for pennies to put food on the tables within those walls and keep a roof over everyone’s head while my grandfather fought for our country.
Sisters, brothers, cousins, nieces, nephews, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons had all resided under that roof at one time or another. It was a time when family and friends looked out for each other. It was a time when kids could play in the street until dark and dinner was when everyone came together to share in conversation, solving the problems of the day and staying connected with each other.
I had the honor of growing up in this home. And yes, the privilege, because I had a big backyard to play in, a barn off which I could practice my tennis strokes and the closeness of three generations who took care of one another. I was blessed to have my parents and my grandparents there together and lavish in all of the love, safety and protection one kid could ever ask for. It wasn’t just a house, it was a home in every sense of the word.
When I moved away, it remained my home. I was there more than in my own place and though my parents and I wanted to live closer, I couldn’t imagine them ever making the decision to move. And in my heart, I couldn’t bear the thought of losing that house, as stoic as I forced myself to appear. I didn’t care how far I had to travel, what I had to do – that was our home. That was where our lives were built, our stories created, our memories made.
We wanted to stay there forever. We didn’t want to walk away. But the walls were struggling and the roof grew weary. The barn was standing against it’s will, the foundation lost it’s spirit and the needed repairs were too many to count. It was time to say goodbye.
Someone else sees a house getting knocked down and wonders what will be built in it’s place. Instead, I see everything someone cared for, lived for and loved being reduced to rubble. Someone’s world is now a pile of debris to be swept away as if it never was.
The grieving has begun. Our house died the day my parents moved and in good Catholic tradition, these past months have been like an Irish wake, going on and on as the structure still stood.
I knew the day would come but among family crisis, the business dealings and the need to stay mentally sharp over these past couple of years, I pushed aside how hard this would hit me emotionally. The memories are countless, but the sadness in this moment is too much to bear.
My parents have a beautiful new house – but will it ever truly be a home? We are making new memories, cherishing the time together and love the area where we live. No question about it.
But maybe it is just a house – because our home was buried today and our hearts are heavy.
Over the years, generation after generation, we watched the neighborhood transform. Single homes knocked to the ground, just like ours, to make room for more modern residential living spaces. Homegrown town families moving on and young professionals from various geographical locales moving in to make themselves a home – or a temporary spot to hang their hats – while visiting here for school, hospital residencies or jobs in the city. And we were a part of it all, a nucleus of sorts while change continually evolved around us.
Then the time had come and it was our turn to move on. This was a decision that was slow in the making, simmering beneath the surface of our lives as we casually read through the offers, not yet ready to entertain the reality of selling, but not completely disregarding the exploration. This took several years.
Our research was thorough and exhaustive. We did our due diligence but because of how much the home meant to us, we were reluctant – and resistant – to work with just anyone, no matter what the price. That was until we met the right broker who introduced us to the right developers and we felt confident in our decision. It was not only business to us – it was personal.
So as we said goodbye to our home, we said hello to the future – to embrace change, to make way for progress and to one day give a new someone a place to call home.