The House That Built Me

Today is November 20th, 2013.


Today is the day my childhood home sold.

Tonight, tomorrow, this week, another family will be moving throughout the same halls in which I laughed, cried, stomped, fought, spun, broke through the plaster with my butt (that’s another post), lived and loved.

Another family will be cooking in the kitchen. In the kitchen where I silently watched my Dad ritually end his morning routine: shower, shave, a bowl of Totals at the table by himself, hat/coat, leave–all while reservedly listening to morning talk news on his portable radio. Will they smell the Old Spice lingering in the haunted halls of my memory?

Another family will be gathered around the kitchen table. The table where I perched, watching my Mom move throughout the kitchen like a Masterful Queen. Sweet potatoes. Peanut butter balls. Corn casserole. 7up cake. Dream bars. Dry, overcooked chicken. Fudge. Will they taste the sparkly sugar on their tongue which glistens in my heart?

Another family will use card tables, corner tables, folding chairs to try and seat all the loud love of a family bickering, laughing, questioning, navigating the terrain of complex living love. Will their family’s wounds neatly repair, or linger in painful bitterness?

Another family will gather in the front room, listening to the noise of another world projected on the TV. The front room where my Dad would sit, head tilted back, fully surrendered to Yanni, whistling in tune, or out of tune. The front room where I would play over and over and over “The Best is Yet to Come” by good ol’ Sinatra, while dancing with my Dad, spinning around lost in playful innocence, carried on his big strength in and out of his legs in a choreography of father-daughter connection. Will they hear my Dad’s whistle carry through the air as it still does faintly in my ears?

Another family will find comfort in the family room. The family room where my Mom spent many of the last years sleeping on the faded blue and white couch, tucked on her right side in her many blankets, TV on sleep timer. The family room where my Mom found her love of Internet games, jewelry-crafting, putting up and taking down an enormous Christmas tree decorated in sparkling ornaments of family memories. Will they open a drawer to find my Mom’s pajamas tucked and folded neatly? Will they see her art lining the walls it it does my life? Will they please send me a life on Facebook, like my Mom used to?

Another family will hang out on the porch. They will sit beside our memories on the swings, around the table, near the smoking grill. There they will eat and laugh and sit in silence under the glowing owl lights. Will the last coherent conversation I had with my Mom, days before she died, in the emotional darkness of the weeping night, echo in their ears as it does mine? Will they wonder whose voice is telling those stories so rambunctiously and deliciously and perfectly punctuated with laughing tears?

Another family will enjoy the shade and sun and soft green lawn of the backyard. The yard in which my Mom built a garden yielding equal amounts of frustration and joy. The yard where my Mom hung clothes to dance in the company of sunshine and Midwestern breeze. The yard where my Dad sat, expressing in his quiet way such repeated annoyance and anger at the planes overhead, rumbling in their journey of taking people to far off places like Hawaii. Will they look up and see my high school self on the garage roof under a night sky, praying to God for everything and nothing?


Another family will find utility in the basement. But will they find comfort? Will someone love ironing and folding and washing and painting and stockpiling food in a freezer, just like my Mom did? Will they hear the tickle of the sewing machine?

Another family will park under and peer around and trim the branches of the tree that I planted when I was no more than a sapling myself–2nd grade. Will those cars, tucked under that living yard stick with pencil marks on a sky, be vans, packed for a road trip, loaded with snacks and maps and plans and dreams?

Today is the day my childhood home sold. But my memories will never be for sale. May God bless that new family with a measure of the blessing I received in my childhood home.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sue Klima
    Nov 21, 2013 @ 14:00:11

    Just beautiful……



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