April 15, 2024

For Sale – My Childhood Home

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Note: This article was originally written on October 21, 2014.  The home finally sold in March 2016 and the family that purchased it have several young kids. When my mom and dad both became ill in 2011 within months of each other, I was not prepared to deal with the sudden change in life’s circumstances. I was not sure I had the strength, courage, or wisdom to provide the support and help needed. But somehow we just do what needs to be done and we make it through.

House Being ConstructedThe house my dad built has been standing for almost fifty years now. The family moved into the partially completed home in 1965 when I was four years old. There were four other siblings – a sister one year younger than I was, a sister one year older, and two brothers five and six years older than I was. My mom and dad would have been about twenty-seven years old a few years earlier when the house was started. Can you imagine building your own house at such a young age while working full time with five young children running around?

The house was actually a kit home in which the plans, instructions, and all materials are shipped to your site and then you build it. Yes, there were many companies selling kit homes back then and you can still buy them today. My dad did not do all of the work entirely himself. Other family members pitched in, and contractors helped to build the basement and install the heating and plumbing. However, my dad had a hand in just about everything in one way or another. It took many more years to finish most of the major work and some things never got finished, even thirty and forty years later, as my mom would often remind him.

House TodayI left my childhood home in 1982 to take my first high technology job in South Florida. At first, I thought I would be in Florida for maybe three to five years and eventually move back to the Midwest. The longer I was in Florida the more I came to like it and the less I saw myself leaving. In the early years, my dad talked about me coming back home and going into business with him to sell and repair televisions and other electronic equipment. At that time, it was hard for me to come to the realization that I would probably never go back and work with my dad again.

It was always a great feeling to take a vacation and go back home to visit. When I stayed in the house I grew up in, I felt a special kind of comfort and peace not found anywhere else. You walk in and everything is immediately familiar and comfortable, and there is a feeling as if you are truly home. In this place the outside world is at bay, your worries and work stress are on hold momentarily, unable to find you while you go back in time and relish the moments.

The house is empty now and up for sale. After my dad passed away, my mom decided to move to a smaller house on one level. The old house was too much for her to navigate with all the stairs and it was too much to maintain. As in many parts of the country, houses are still not selling very well, especially in small rural towns, so it could be a while before the old house sees laughter and life again. When I visited my family last November, I stopped by the old house a few times. I walked around the empty rooms and pulled up memories from the past and laughed a little, and cried a little. I talked to my dad asking him if he was present watching over the house he had built.

Today is the third anniversary of the passing of my dad. On this day, I think of him and I think of the old house. Someday the house my dad built will be someone else’s home and with that, another chapter in our family history will be complete. My wish for today is that a family with lots of kids buys the old house and fills it with noise, laughter, and family reunions. The house needs to be alive again and when it finally is, I like to imagine that my dad will be smiling and happy that new generations will enjoy all of his hard work.

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