I’m thinking of my daughter-in-love today. Over the weekend she, her hubby, and two beautiful children, moved out of the house they’ve called home for over six years. It was, predictably, bittersweet. While she looks forward with anticipation toward the new home they are building, the precious memories associated with the home they are leaving tug at her heart making it difficult to say goodbye.
After all of the hustle and bustle of moving was over, her little family spent some time alone honouring their time in that home. They walked through every room and shared special memories with one another and then wrote a note–illustrated with drawings–and left it with a gift for the new homeowners. I’m tearing up even as I write about their ritual as I imagine the four of them walking through the empty rooms.
I’m reminded about the time Gerry and I moved into the first house we would share together. When we walked in together to the empty house we found a bouquet of flowers and a note from the former homeowners welcoming us to our new home. There were tears flowing then too–tears of joy for a future I hadn’t dared imagine and yet was blessed to be looking forward to.
Three times since that day I’ve left flowers and a “Welcome Home!” note for the new owners on the counter top of an empty house we were leaving. I’ve found the simple gesture to be a way of honouring our time in the home with gratitude and it has helped ease our transition.
We put so much of ourselves into our homes as we change this-and-that, decorate it according to our own tastes, clean it, care for it, raise our families, and simply live our daily lives within it’s walls. Every home has its distinct idiosyncrasies–things that annoy us, things that we wish we could change–yet as we learn to adapt and make these things work for our families our homes become an extension of us.
About forty years ago I read a little book by Marjorie Holmes called Love and Laughter. It was a compilation of, what the publisher called, “Mother’s wisdom on every day things”. There was a little story in that book where the author reflected on the woman who had formerly lived in her house. That story has stuck with me all these years as I’ve thought about the women who have cared for houses I’ve long since left behind and those who cared for houses I lived in at the time. Different people, different lives, even different times, yet bound together simply by the home we’ve tended together.
This morning I’m thinking back to all of the houses I’ve left over the course of my life, starting with the house that Dad built that we moved from when I was twelve. If memory serves, there have been nine farewells–ten if you count my parent’s house that I cleaned out and sold after Mom died suddenly. Some of the leavings were filled with joy, others marred with sorrow, all were washed with bittersweet tears as I walked through the door for the last time.
I read somewhere that a home left empty for more than a short period of time begins to deteriorate. That makes sense to me. A home is so much more than wood, and nails, and whatever else it’s built out of. The lives that are lived with its walls are the real glue that holds a home together; every family that lives there adds something unique to its patina.
Some simple things I’m thinking about as I putter around my home this morning, tidying, cleaning, adding my adding my own touch, making it ever more mine for this season.