August 23, 2013

Selling My Childhood Home

by

Lock and key

And for one last time I turned the key, locked the door, and walked away. Never to return. And despite going to Texas for this specific reason, knowing I am nearing the end of the book, not just the chapter, I began to sob. I sat in the car for at least 20 minutes with memories flooding my mind, unable to actually focus and see the house.

My grandparents built this house in 1968, fully intending to spend their golden years there. They were almost 50 and their children were grown. Within two years I would be living there, with my grandparents and mother as she navigated being a single parent. It would be a place my mother and I would stop when out on errands. It’s where I would ask to go to just talk to my grandpa when my grandma was playing bingo. It’s where I would always call home until I got married.

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I would live in the house for a few years when my mom worked nights. I would walk in to the house after school when I was in second grade, after it had been robbed. I would be in this house to welcome my grandparents home from their many trips to far-off lands.

There were birthday parties, break fast dinners, Thanksgiving feasts, Hanukkah celebrations, and Passover seders. Lots of them. With lots of people. It would also be full of people for wedding celebrations as well as funerals. I can hear the buzz of the dryer. And the quiet as I did my homework at the kitchen table alone before my grandparents came home.

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I remember the kitchen table with the divot in it from when my grandfather’s handgun discharged as he prepared to clean it. The corner cabinet in the dining room, made by my grandfather. The antique curved-glass dessert cart that sat in front of the picture window. And the 1950s Grundig stereo that my grandfather would listen to, which now sits in my house.

For the past year I’ve been ready to sell the house. I’ve gone back and packed up, cleaned, and prepared for this moment. I was focused and methodical. This wasn’t emotional. There were no tears. The house had to be sold. I didn’t want to keep going back and forth to take care of it and my grandmother was no longer able to do it herself. It was a stark reality and I approached it very business-like.

That was until I turned the key that one last time. I can never go back. I’ll never walk through the door again and hear the laughter, the tears, or the silence. It’s all gone. It’s not my grandparent’s house any more. The house may be gone, but the memories. I will always have those.

Sara

{ 19 comments }

Wendy August 23, 2013 at 7:15 am

That’s lovely, Sara. You do have your memories for sure. Hugs.

Sara August 23, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Thank you, Wendy. I have so many memories, so I feel very fortunate to be able to take them wherever I go.

Ann August 23, 2013 at 7:40 am

(((Hugs))) Sara.

My grandparents bought their house in 1944. My grandfather still lives there. My niece has indicated she wants to buy it when the time comes, but we shall see. Otherwise, I foresee many tears for me too when the time comes.

Sara August 23, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Ann, wow! Since 1944, I can’t even imagine all the memories in that home. It would be great if your niece could keep it in the family.

Anne @GenFabulous August 23, 2013 at 9:57 am

This made *me* cry a little. My mother still lives in my childhood home, but I’m not as nostalgic for that place as I was for my grandparents’ house.
When it was sold a few years ago and I found out about it on Facebook, it was tough.

Sara August 23, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Anne, oh no! On Facebook? What is wrong with people? I’m so sorry you had to find out like that. I’m not sure what it is about grandparents’ homes that makes our hearts hold on so tight. (hugs)!

Beth @ TheAngelForever August 23, 2013 at 10:49 am

Sitting here with tears in my eyes. Thank goodness for memories and being able to think of those celebrations and good times in the house. I have so many memories of where my Nana and Papa lived. Since it was practically around the corner from where we lived, I was there almost every day. We lived at the pool each summer (oh how I miss that). I never got to say goodbye to their house and wish I had though I was really young. May your memories keep you smiling and reliving the special times from your past.

Sara August 23, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Thank you for your beautiful words, Beth. Saying goodbye to a home may seem weird to some, but when they’re so connected to many great memories it’s a little part of us that goes too. I’m glad you have so many special memories of your Nana & Papa’s home, just like I have for my grandparent’s home.

Cycleguy August 23, 2013 at 11:07 am

26 years ago I ventured into a family that was rich in tradition, told great stories and loved to feed me. This was a home not a house and I felt that way every single time I visited Your metaphor of a book is so very appropriate because as with many novels there are high points and low points, I know this last chapter is tough to live through right now and it may not be a perfect ending when its all said and done you will always have the amazing memories ! xxoo

(PS I still wish we could go eat Bratwurst from the German deli and a cinnamon roll from Cinnamon Sams for Dessert one last time)

Sara August 23, 2013 at 11:33 pm

CycleGuy, I, too, wish there was one more Saturday lunch at the bratwurst place and a stop at Cinnamon Sams. We have one more visit, and while I know it’s coming and can prepare as much as possible it won’t be easy. But I’m glad you’ll be there with me.

Mimi@MimiAvocado August 23, 2013 at 11:08 am

I feel for you. I dread selling my parents’ home when the time comes, and fantasize about buying it, finding ways to continue owning it with my siblings…knowing that we probably will never be able to work that out. To make myself feel better, I think about the previous houses we lived in, and the house where my grandmother lived…the fact that even though we no longer own those places, the memories are permanent and can never be replaced or forgotten. Locking the door and walking away with our memories is another one of those life-rituals that we don’t antipate…it’s a loss. Take time to grieve. Find some joy to anticipate as well. Hugs to you.

Sara August 23, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Mimi, thank you for visiting and commenting. I sure hope you and your siblings can work something out when the time comes. I never really thought of selling the house as being an emotional loss, but you’re right about the grieving. There is so much more that made it a home than just the structure, and, as you remind me, all those get to come with me. ~ Sara

Cindy Keller August 23, 2013 at 11:08 am

We had to sell our childhood home and its contents two years ago, when my father entered a nursing home. We held an auction and watched a lifetime of our parents’ belongings sold piece by piece. It was very emotional for us. I still find it difficult to drive past the house. So many memories.

Sara August 23, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Cindy, my grandmother handled the “estate sale lady” and while that was a disaster, I still have a storage unit full of stuff in addition to my grandmother’s apartment. But watching it all be sold off for, seemingly, pennies was very hard for my grandmother. It’s why I stepped in and just packed everything else up. I’m glad I’m in good company as I experience a loss I never knew I would feel so strongly. ~ Sara

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang August 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm

I am thinking of you today. What a beautiful tribute. You have a precious soul full of beauty.

Sara August 23, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Kate, thank you for your kind words and keeping me in your thoughts. I’m glad I was able to capture this moment and share it so others can understand it. ~ Sara

Audrey Rogers August 25, 2013 at 11:06 am

It is so sad. We can’t go back for the comfort of the familiar. Those were beautiful pictures you took of the house number and the street sign. I guess those pics are all one needs when the memories are so vivid. I wish your grandmother the best. Must have been hard for her too.

kim/the maker mom September 27, 2013 at 11:52 pm

I’m a bit behind here (the story of my summer!). What a touching goodbye and a lovely comment from your husband. It’s interesting how a space takes on new meaning when we live our lives in it. This is a tough book to close, but you did right by your family.

William October 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Those are great thoughts, Sara. How wonderful that you have a childhood home! We moved so much I was never really tied to one place. Write down as much as you can about it before you forget!

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