Thursday, July 11, 2013

On Coming Home

Dear Homeowner,

You met me at the door of your home when we came to see it last week. I was a little bit early and you were dragging your heels, both of us wondering the same thing: could your home become mine?

I took the hand you offered and we clung to each other, smiling. I asked why you're moving and the light dropped from your eyes, for just a moment.

Your wife died, you said and you're planning to move far away, to be closer to your grandchildren.

I nodded, as though in approval of this life's plan that has nothing to do with me. Truthfully, I was nodding to try to keep the smile on my face because the look on yours broke my heart.

With a gentle, welcoming sweep of your arm, you ushered us into your home and simply disappeared out the back door. In the meantime, we tiptoed inside: marveled at the furniture, the photos, the fanciful, exotic sculptures and prints that filled your home: all of it proof of a well-travelled, well-read, well-lived life.

And the smell. Oh, the lovely, gorgeous smell of Europe - I breathed France in Fall into my lungs as I let my fingers trace the backs of your chairs, arranged just so in the main parlour. 

As I peered at the books lining your bookshelf, I was not surprised to see the Netherlands on their spines because suddenly, I could smell  coffee and my Dutch father's meatball offerings on a rainy November night.

Our real estate agent, himself the child of English parents grinned and nodded when I said this all aloud. He'd just been through the kitchen and said it looked like those he'd visited on a trip to his parents' homeland, many years ago.

On we moved, reverently now, from room to room, space to glorious space.

I felt my throat ache when I spied the banister leading to the second floor - heard my own children's laughter as I imagined - nay, saw - them sliding their way from top to bottom.

On the landing above I heard your children's laughter too and for a moment I stood utterly still, enchanted.

Such love lived here.

In every photo, of your children throughout the three decades you lived here, I saw it.

In every bedroom, I felt that time was standing still, holding the secrets and memories of those who slept there, dreamed there, loved there.

Love lives here still.

In the master bedroom, I saw your wife's funeral card and - forgive me - took it gently in my own hand. Felt a soft shift in the air around me, above me, beneath me. And I thought, "How he loves her."

And then I slipped back downstairs to the family room - the room that felt like the heart of the house, to me - and simply sat, gazing out the bay window. Imagined watching my own sons play in the shade of the porch, slam their way in through the grand front door only to tumble out the one at the back.

Tilted my head to the ceiling and watched my own dreams of a home filled with love and laughter and walls filled with memories play across the cracked plaster and wondered if your wife, Elizabeth, had done the same, 30 years ago?

Thank you for allowing me into your home, to dream awhile, to bask in the beauty you've created.

Know that whomever ends up buying your house is lucky in ways they might not even realize, now: that they are inheriting a space filled with grace and beauty and lives wondrously lived.

I can only hope that the next family who lives in mine - whenever that time comes - feels the same.

The Reds exploring another old house that captured their mama's heart.

Blessed be.

* * *
And you?
How did you choose the house you now call home?
What were the scents and sights that drew you in?
What would you say to the previous owners, if you could?


  1. So beautifully written, I felt as though I was right there with you. As you know, my current home was not 'my home' and the circumstances surrounding our move was not ideal. However, this house I live in, it has history. And it speaks to me in some way. There was tragedy there but also love and happiness and the love I feel in it overshadows the tragic side of things.

  2. If only the walls could speak, indeed. And isn't it something, that the places we choose - or the ones that choose us - are filled with the stuff of lives lived, including our own? Tragedy, love, happiness. May we always spend our days in places where happiness overshadows the sad.

  3. Our first home together as a family was actually built by my Great Grandfather. It was a total fluke that it came on the market at the exact time that we were looking to buy. It felt right. I have not been able to recreate that feeling in the new house. Oh, sure, it is a safe, soft, comfortable place to be. But not quite the same as our first house. :)