This is an open letter to house-seeking buyers. Real Estate deals are said to be one of life’s most stressful undertakings. Yet, one of Americans’ greatest aspirations is to acquire a house and to take pride in your ownership–it’s like one more step up that ladder to success.
In contrast, just as equally or more stressful is that time when one or both of your parents has passed on and you (at whatever your age), need to let go, sell that house, and move on with your life without them as your guides. Adding to this stress, we are well aware as a family of five that our parents had grown up amidst the Great Depression and World War II. Often, they lived in multigenerational rented dwellings; often poor, sometimes jobless, sometimes hungry, and their motto was “Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.” Among their many accomplishments: they began working in their teens (dad was 15), they married young (17 and 18), and stayed together 72 years; Started a family young that included one daughter and two sons; bought a new house to call their own, and paid it off in retirement. In total, our parents lived in our family home for 60 years! In contrast with, or in addition to their motto, above, they took extreme care to maintain their family and all their belongings as best they could–especially our home.
Our home was not just “a place,” it was where my brothers romped, played tag, or threw baseballs and footballs safely in our fenced back yard with what have now become their lifelong friends; they created a new and now infamous game among all our generations called “doo-doo” man (when Tiny, the not-so-tiny saint bernard next door left droppings and one of the boys in fetching a ball fell into them); I had weekend sleepovers there with my girlfriends during our high school years–we tried sneaking out one night and nearly got caught because our pekingese dog, Sammy, woke up my parents with his barking; mom and her two backyard neighbors (and lifelong friends) drank coffee around the breakfast table in the mornings, sun-bathed outside with ice tea and lemonade under the patio additions; went to many local shopping malls on many saturday mornings; played for years double-deck pinochle on Tuesday nights with me and my husband, Bob; Dad and Bob after too many beers on one Christmas Eve spent hours trying to assemble a fire truck pedal car; our parents hosted regular Sunday night dinners with my brothers and their growing families. And on every family birthday or holiday until they were about 80, threw the celebratory gatherings that most times included about 30 family members of all sizes and ages. And yes, nearly every holiday one or the other my sons had to be taken to a medical facility because they crashed on bicycle, fell headfirst into the corner of a tin dump truck toy–or, when they knocked over an intended grave headstone that weighed about 100 pounds onto their bare feet. In our parents’ later years the “kids” continued their visits with our parents and tended to theirs and their dogs’ needs, as well as helping to keep up with the household chores and maintenance. There were times of difficulty, times of sorrow, but mostly we remember those good ole’ family times, and especially those many times of laughter that kept our home so very warm and comfortable. Yes, there are many family stories in this old but well cared for family home–if only these walls could talk (or maybe not)!
So to you buyers out there, please remember that this house has never been “just four walls,” in which to toss your stuff and your family for a while–this home is where my heart is. Please treat it with respect and continue to give it your tender loving care–it deserves it and so do you.