Saturday, June 25, 2011

The House that Built Me

It's probably better that I didn't know I was walking out of the house for the last time in February.  I figured, as did we all, that it would take longer for it to sell and close and be gone from our family.

I thought we had more time.

And, as I've been reminded yet again, life doesn't really care what your time frames are for anything.

The house is almost empty, the boxes packed.  All that is left, a few loose ends. 

Yesterday, Mom left for the last time.  Sometime this weekend, my brother will say goodbye.

Truth is, though, once Dad was gone it wasn't home anymore.

I knew when I left the last time to go back to help care for him at the end it wouldn't be home anymore.  I knew that I was getting on a plane, fully aware that it would be the last time I'd be going home.   I knew even then that it wouldn't feel the same without him.

Just a shell of what it once was.

This is the house that built me.

This is the house we found one afternoon, Dad and I.  I'm not even sure where Mom and Gary were, but Dad and I went looking.  We found this house.   At the time, it was painted brown.  The driveway was lumpy asphalt.  The yard overgrown.  The backyard was covered with bamboo.  The pool in desperate need of repair.  The kitchen all wrong.  The entire house carpeted with the stuff you put in an industrial building. 

We saw more than all that, the two of us.  I remember going back to the house we had at the time to tell Mom we'd found a new one.  I don't know who was more excited, Dad or I.  It had a pool.  It had a three car garage.  It had a deck.  It had a bedroom downstairs for Nana.  It was perfect, even if only in his eyes and mine.

It took a lot of work.  For a long time, Dad jokingly referred to it as the money pit.  Something always needed fixed.  It was a constant work in progress.   An almost 23 year long work in progress.

I haven't lived in that house for well over a decade, but it was always home.

It was always my center. 

I've found myself telling my brother, my mother, my husband, my kids that it is just a house now.  I've heard the same in return.  It's just a building with walls and a roof.  Everything that it once was, no more. 

My head knows these things.  My heart isn't so sure.

I think we are all trying to convince ourselves.

I wish that I could be there to take that last walk through the house with my brother.  I wish I was there with him for the ending of this chapter in our lives.  I wish he didn't have to do it without me.

It's the walking away that will be the hard part.

This song, one I heard for the first time the day after my Daddy died.  You really can't go home again.


  1. I lost that sense of home when my parents split up the second time at 16 and found it again when I had my first son. We moved for the first time since his birth last year and it's been a struggle to find that feeling again. I just recently had the epiphany that 'home' is wherever I am with my boys and their dad.

    You still have 'home' too; it's just not the one you were given, it's the one you've built for your children. <3 and lots of virtual hugs

  2. Oh my goodness, I wrote a post with the same title last week! I went back to my childhood home, only to realize that it wasn't "home" anymore. I love your line, "I think we're all trying to convince ourselves."

  3. I've had several homes to grow up in. It's actually hard to answer "So where are you from" questions. Born in Vegas, moved to Simi at age 9.
    When my dad was diagnosed we had been living in Simi for 3 years, but at that point not all together. My parents were going to divorce and my mom and I moved from our Simi home already into a duplex around the corner from Hollow Hills. I can put this all together now, looking back, able to process grownup things.
    My dad would come over to visit or just watch me...all was cordial. He was over one night complaining of pain with his hand over where his liver sat. My mom took him to the ER.The next day they were looking in the phone book for certain doctors.I didn't understand and asked what an "Oncologist" was. I was answered. I asked "Who has Cancer???" I was answered.
    9 months later my mom left for the hospice located in Canoga Park one evening in May, I stayed home alone. I had school the next day. I woke up and it was past 9am and I was not at school. I knew, and when I came out of the bathroom my mom was standing there. "Daddy passed away last night."
    I don't know how I would feel if I grew up in one or two homes. I know leaving it would be as hard as you say it is.
    The condo here in Vegas is where I consider to be my childhood home. It's where I had lots of sleepovers, my first ride on my dad's Harley, learning to ride a bike. Happy. Once we moved to CA, everything went bad and it didn't stop, whether it was in our first CA home, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th. I do know that if I visit Simi again, I wouldn't enjoy driving by any of the homes I lived in. The condo here in Vegas, where my childhood was, and remains, I frequent as often as I can.

  4. yeah. i get this too. the house my family left in buffalo on june 14 1981 will forever be the place that i knew as the last time our family was as normal as it was ever going to be. after we moved, my mother cracked up, my dad did his best to keep us together and my brother went to college. it was me and my dad and my little brother and our broken mother. she repaired, somewhat, but the damage was done. i will never ever ever forget that house, but i think it finally let me go on june 14, 2012. you already read this post, but here it is again. i have never cried like i did when that house let me go. (or did it?)



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