Monday, October 12, 2009

Saying Goodbye to My Childhood House

19 days remain until my dad sells the house. It didn't hit me 'til last night, when I woke up at 2 AM and couldn't fall back to sleep. I tossed and turned for an hour. And I thought a lot about the house I grew up in (that's it in the photo, isn't it pretty?).

Everyone keeps asking how I feel about the house selling. The thing is, I said goodbye to that house 7 years ago when my mom died. I knew then and there that the house would never be the same. Her too-loud laugh and warm hugs had filled the space for 20+ years. Without it, the house felt as hollow as the pumpkins we gutted and carved last night.

My cousin Susi says she wants to see the house before it goes. I keep thinking she's going to be disappointed. She wants what I want: my mom asking us girls to set the table with her pretty butterfly dishes and all of us gathering round the table to eat baked ziti and laugh at Sally's ridiculous stories, like when she accidentally walked into the men's room at the gym, plus an inappropriate remark about how God really knew what he was doing when he made the woman's body (and not so much when he made the man's). If Susi goes there, she'll see what I see: a ghost of a house, the ghost of Sally.

The truth is, the house being gone is a bit of a relief. These days I prefer going to Susan's house. It has the warmth that my house lacks. And with my dad living there too, it will feel even more homey.

My sadness about the house is also uplifted by the people buying the house. Just like my parents, it's a young couple who are both teachers. And just as my parents moved in with infant Jordan, they're moving in with a newborn son. To top it off, the woman's name is Laura, the same name as my best friend. When my dad told me about them, I immediately knew and told him, "It's meant to be. Mom wanted you to sell the house."

Have you had to part with your childhood home? How did you get through it? What did you save, what did you throw away?


  1. is he putting it on the market then or is it already sold and that's move out day. dang!

  2. As the "DAD" in today's blog, I want to thank you, Marisa, for helping us pack-up the house. I know that this move is as difficult for you as it is for me. Though the house will soon be gone, a fortune of good memories will remain with us. And, you will always be my wonderful, loving daughter, despite a change of address.

  3. having been through many transitions...I can relate.... having hosted you this past summer, I am sorry to have missed the opportunity for more in depth conversation...your communication skills as well as loving friends and family are a blessing.

  4. I am on my way to say goodbye to the house I grew up in as an only child. My husband and I have spent the last 6 months working on it getting it ready to sell. My dad really let it go when my mom died 10 years ago. I couldn't figure out why I'm not more emotional. I loved my dad with all my heart and cared for him at the end of his life. But you helped me realize that I let go of a lot when it was my mom that died. Perhaps it's the mother/daughter thing, perhaps it was because I was extremely close to her, or perhaps I'll never know. So with pen and pad in hand to write whatever comes to me, I am heading down the 3+ hour drive with my husband and young adult son to say my goodbyes and tap my memories. Thanks for making me feel a bit better and perhaps understanding a bit more about the letting go and grieving process.

  5. Is your childhood house located in NY?

  6. My grandmother recently made the difficult decision to sell their house, she'd lived there since the mid 60s, it was where my parents got married, where my sister and cousin came home to after they were born. My cousin had wanted to take his wife there, to see the house he spent some of his formative years in, and his take was if our grandmother wasn't in the house, there wasn't a point in going. Which is true with me, with my sister, parents (they got married from that house)- without the house, our link to this town where generations of our family have lived has been severed. And yet, who we are as individuals and people is forever linked to that house. My grandfather built that house, and though he died before I had the chance to know him as an adult, he was this huge influence on my dad, who's been one of my biggest influences.
    You take the best of it with you, your house is now home to a new family, but the memories are permanently yours.

  7. My parents sold the Midwestern farm I grew up on when they got old and decided to move into town. Us kids were okay with that. I saw it as simply way too much maintenance. Then, three years after the sale my father died. Instantly we regretted selling. The farm became the place where all our memories of him, and our mother were. I am struck by how the mind does not know what it wants until too late. To make matters worse the people who bought it are not taking care of it. Nothing's been painted in 20 years now, there is trash and junk everywhere, including old vehicles. The house itself is unoccupied, the large hay barn is starting to lean. The people live in a second smaller house that was my grandfather's.

    I think about that farm every day. If I could I'd buy it and move back there and fix it up the way it was. But the people won't sell. We've asked. It's a death of a thousand cuts, knowing that day by day it goes downhill a little more. I don't know how to get this out of my mind. I've done scrapbooks, but all that does is bring back memories. I try to tell myself that the memories are more important than the physical space, but I still crave the physical space.

    You know, I'm sure I'd have an easier time of it if someone had bought the farm and taken care of it, but that didn't happen. I put myself into 20 years of hell by not realizing how much I valued that place. It hasn't gotten any easier.

    I don't seem to find many people who care this much about their childhood homes. Sometimes I think I'm simply too sensitive. But I am who I am.,

  8. Farewell to my childhood home

    I wanted to say goodbye to my childhood home
    thank you for the security you provided
    a place to call home
    a place to connect to all my childhood memories
    a place to connect to when everything else
    around me was changing, you always stayed the same
    I promise to keep you always the same in my memories
    may you be blessed with a new energy and provide a
    happy place for whoever lives in your space

    Thank you 2905 Poplar for the memories
    God Bless You