My parents recently moved out of the house they shared together for 37 years. The house in which I spent the first 24 years of my life. Thirty-seven years is a long time to live anywhere, but this house is a bit unique. Why? Well, it became a part of our family’s story when my great-grandparents purchased it in the late 1930s.
As time marched on, my grandparents became the eventual owners. My father and his four siblings all spent some time growing up there. Decades later, my
parents bought the home from my grandparents. That means four generations of my family have lived in this house. Six generations, from my great great grandfather down to my own children, have walked its halls.
With my parents’ move, I have spent some time in reflection. This was, of course, the place I called home for the majority of my life. It’s the place where Mom and I decorated the Christmas tree each year. Where Dad and I sat at my Strawberry Shortcake table on Saturday mornings to color. I learned how to ride a bike there. It is the place I got ready for school each morning, from kindergarten through college. My very first car resided in its driveway. A teenage-version of myself spent hours on the phone there (racking up long distance charges) with her boyfriend. It’s where that boyfriend asked Dad’s permission to marry me.
But because of the history of this house in my family, it has not only
impacted me. Inside the walls of this house, young couples embarked on their next journey, babies came home from the hospital, family members posed for pictures in front of the mantle, and four family members (including myself) exited the house on the day they got married. Grandchildren visited, achievements were applauded, tears were shed, laughter was shared.
In many ways, this house was like a book. So many chapters of my family’s story have been written in this home. And each of us who lived there has contributed to its narrative.
But at 6 and 3, my kids may only have fleeting and fuzzy recollections of this house. My 6 year old may remember sleepovers, visiting his great-grandmother next door when she was living, and the “best pancakes” that his Pepere made there. I’m not sure how much my 3 year old will remember, if anything. As parents, though, I think it is our task – our joyful task – to be storytellers. We are responsible for passing on memories of what is, and what was, important to us and the ones before us.
When my grandmother was alive, we occasionally joked that she told the same stories on repeat. But in the year since her passing, it’s clear that those anecdotes have had a lasting influence. We chuckle over the funny ones. Time and time again, we reference my grandmother’s incredible memory for detail when trying to remember when something happened. My grandmother always told her stories with a certain amount of pride and a glimmer in her eye. Because of what this home meant to myself and my family, I intend to tell my kids and grandchildren (and maybe even great-grandchildren) about all the good times I experienced there. And I will be sure to recount the stories that have been told to me in order to preserve those memories for generations to come.
I could not be any happier for my parents as they begin to make new memories in their new home. Growth and change are part of the beauty of this journey we call life. We are always writing new chapters. While we can’t necessary live in the past, it’s important to reflect on it periodically and share it with those who come after us. It’s like dusting off your favorite book once in awhile and opening it up to your favorite chapter. This house may no longer belong to my parents physically, but the home that was cultivated there for generations will always be part of of my family’s story, and I am honored to be one of its storytellers.