Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An open letter to a house

Dear house with the velvet wallpaper,

Mom emailed me the other night. Telling me to say goodbye to you. She had signed off on an offer on you. I replied with "harumph". I knew Oma Regina was selling you. I knew she needed to find a place that wasn't so very empty and big. But at the same time I wasn't ready. I'm still not ready. I don't want someone else to call you home. It's not fair. You're all I had left to come home to in Canada. I know in my heart of hearts you're my moms home more than you are mine but I like to consider you home too. No matter where I went in the world I could always come back to you and know where the Fruitloops were kept.

When the house with the two big trees in the front yard that my Dad called home was sold a number of years ago and I found myself missing its living room I wasn't allowed in and backyard with crab apple trees I found solace and comfort in the fact that I still had you. Your velvet curtains in the front room. The living room that was only used on special occasions and your back hallway where I learned to walk with my mom sitting at one end and her mother sitting at the other.

My wedding dress was made in your basement sewing room. My high school graduation dress and years of Christmas dresses came out of that little sewing room. Countless meals at your Kitchen table. Endless family dinners or lunches in your dining room. My only Christmas with my moms Mother. My Opas re-marriage. My Uncles Wedding.  The last time my husband saw my Opa alive. The first time I walked in the back door from the garage with my husband I imagined if you could talk you would say something to the effect of, "Oh it's you again! The one that likes Regina's braised red cabbage, slid down the basement stairs on couch cushions and lost all those marbles behind the furnace once. Oh look, you brought someone new with you! Welcome home."

It seems really silly to be attached to your bricks and mortar. But when you moved around Canada like I did you tend to try to cling to the things that don't change and that thing for me was the houses that my grandparents. And now I don't have you anymore. You're going to another family. You're going to watch new people run up and down your stairs and burst through the back door from the garage. New voices will fill your kitchen, different family pictures will adorn your dining room walls and the Fruitloop will find a new cupboard.

I tried to explain to my husband what it was like to lose you. I can tell he doesn't understand fully. He's trying but he lived in the same house his entire life. The biggest "relocation" he made growing up was going from a shared bedroom in the basement to his own bedroom in the attic. I finally told him, "Its like your parents selling their house to strangers and you can never ever ever go back to the farm." He mentioned that concept was hard for him to wrap his brain around because he's always had the farm. He doesn't want to think of life without the farm. I don't want to think of life without your gate latch I waited forever to reach and your backyard with the raspberry bushes.

So house this is it. This is goodbye. And thank you. Thank you for your Sunday lunches where things were passed over my head and watching The Addams Family reruns with my Opa. Thank you for sleepover in my Moms old bedroom and the velvet wallpaper in the "piano room". Thank you for being the stage on which legends about my Oma Maiers hostessing were born and for keeping her China safe for me. Thank you for the Christmas eve dinners where I longingly stared at the gifts under the tree and the sound of my Opa in the kitchen in the morning. Thank you for the sounds of my Oma Reginas sewing machine. Thank you for being where my Dad proposed to my Mom and where my Oma Regina overfed my husband. Thank you for having a basement with an old fussball table and table top shuffleboard. Thank you for ALWAYS having the fruitloops in the same place.

House, please take care of your new family.

Love,

Sylvia's little girl
Jakobs only granddaughter
The inheritor of Irenes China
Lover of Regina's braised Red Cabbage.


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1 comment:

  1. I returned to my childhood home during an open-house when it was on the market again. I had not been inside in years. In the basement, plastered on the concrete wall by the stairs were my 8ish-year-old handprints,still glowing white against the grey wall. I got heck for getting into the paint, but nobody wiped off the prints. They are probably plastered over with studs and drywall by now, but they're still there underneath it all, just like my memories.

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