Earlier this year we learned unexpectedly we needed to move. Yes, saying good bye to our home of 33 years. It was sudden and at the time we didn’t know where we were going. This is a special house, a home where all 5 of our children grew up. An old brick colonial with ivy creeping up the front and a messy yard- still revealing broken sand buckets, and hiding lost treasures.
When our kids heard the news that we’d have to move they decided to surprise us with a great gift-a trip home to say goodbye to the house! All of our kids are in their 30’s, live in 4 different states, and amongst them have 21 children so it was no easy task to do this! (A huge thank you to their spouses who stayed home to take care of their kids!).
Oh what a wonderful weekend it was. We did everything we used to do in the old days. The kids slept in their old rooms, we got take-out from our favorite restaurant, “The Lost Dog.” Some of them went for a run early in the am while others slept in! Five siblings shared the same bathroom again although our son John said it was a bit unusual to find a breast pump in the middle of the bathroom floor!
We took time to go into each room and recount memories of that particular room. Chris and John remembered the old couch they got off the street and hauled up to their already crowded 9 by 10’ room to join a tacky Farah Faucett bean bag chair and the time they ate way too many breath mints and got horrible stomach aches which left the room dubbed “a gas tank” by their sisters. Allison (our eldest and the only one with her own room) remembers various siblings getting in bed with her in the middle of the night and then wetting her bed! And she remembers snuggling with Dad to read, Tales of Narnia.
I recalled the intense sibling rivalry and fights between Allison and John and then the time in High School when I walked past her room and discovered them curled up together planning their double date to Homecoming. I marveled at God’s goodness. Susy and Libby’s (our twins) room brought back memories for each of us. Allison remembers sitting outside their baby gate doing her homework on the hall floor while the twins, having climbed out of their cribs stood inside the gate screaming until they fell asleep in a pile on the floor. (We didn’t have sleep training books in those days!) The twins remember re-arranging their rooms, florescent stars on the ceiling, and much later a boyfriend serenading outside the window!
The twins room held a poignant moment for me as I remembered having my “Empty Nest melt-down” sitting on the floor in their newly emptied room as Susy and her husband pulled out of the driveway with all their belongings after Libby’s wedding (our last). I burst into tears as I looked at that empty room with dirty marks where pictures once hung. I noticed a discarded old prom dress all alone on the closet floor, deserted, no longer needed and at that moment I felt like that dress… no longer needed. My babies had left. All were now married. Memories… Oh the joy and especially the gratitude each of us experienced as we remembered.
I gave the kids each of their baby books. No they weren’t neat. Papers spilled out, and not one was completed. Each one shared something they found in their book- a valentine poem from a sibling, a silver dollar from a granddad, a hilarious photo or news clipping. We laughed together reminiscing.
Allison and John cooked a fabulous dinner. They did not want my chicken divan again. But we did have a Carvel’s ice cream cake, just like the old days.
Together we celebrated the past and prayed about the unknown future.
Celebrating the past is a precious gift and taking time to recount memories brings a joyful closure to a season in life. We were reminded again and again of the gift of family and of the truth God’s faithfulness.
It was a perfect weekend.
“Good bye house”
In the great old house five kids were raised
Two boys wrestled and 3 girls played dolls
Four golden retrievers -one jumped out a window
And landed two stories below
Two exhausted parents tried to say “hush”
And yes the kids ate lots of grits or mush
You’ve been a great shelter for us. ..
oh, and good bye mouse.
Do you have a favorite memory of your childhood home?
Susan Yates has written thirteen books and has spoken nationally and internationally on the subject of marriage, parenting and women’s issues for many years. For 11 years she was a regular columnist on parenting for Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Susan is the mother of five and has 21 grandchildren, including a set of quads. She is devoted to sharing her wisdom and experience with moms and wives and is selflessly available to those in need. Susan has been a mom for 40 years, she and John have been married for 43 years.