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Friday, July 18, 2008

How To Really Live in a House...

My next-door neighbor moved out of his house two days ago. He lived in the house for over 50 years. He is in his mid-80's and is the kindest older gentleman I have ever met (Not counting my dad, but he doesn't count as an "older gentleman" because he is only 70 and that's just a GD spring chicken).
In that house, he and his wife started their life together. They raised five children. He knew the original owners of our house and told me a few interesting stories about the street. He remembers when the end of our street was still an open field where his kids would play baseball.
His wife brought us a homemade cherry cobbler on the day we moved in, over six years ago. They delivered little gifts to us after each child was born.
They went to Florida every winter, church every Sunday and his children visited weekly. He seemed to enjoy the day to day of life. He went for a brisk walk every day, until his hip surgery last year. He insisted on mowing his lawn and doing his own yardwork. His wife declined quickly after a stroke about two years ago and last Christmas, she passed away in that house.
I will never forget Matt bringing him over a plate of our Christmas Eve dinner, when he was at his wife's deathbed with the hospice nurse. He was so grateful, he began to cry when Matt brought it over. And a few days later, I saw him watch her leave the house from his front porch.
He always said "hello" to our crazy kids playing outside, and the kids loved to wave and say "hi!" to him. He took the time to ask them how their day was or what they were up to. I was sad to see the "For Sale" sign go up this spring, though I knew it was inevitable.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have seen him puttering around his yard, his driveway, etc. I was thinking, I wonder what it is like to be saying goodbye to that house. A house you owned for over 50 years, raised five children in, said goodbye to your wife in...and now you have to walk away. What a life they built around that house and what memories to be leaving within the walls.
Even now, in our house of a mere six years, there are so many precious memories we have created here, I don't think I could let this house go.
I hope I am lucky enough to have the memories he has. We should all be so lucky to be married for 50 years, raise healthy kids (who are now grandparents in their own right), and have our great grandchildren over for Sunday dinners.
I hope he still visits our street every now and then. And I hope we can carry the tradition on that his family started. I believe he looked around and saw the new families and young kids playing in their front yards as a sign of hope for this street he has learned to love so deeply. We will certainly miss him.


At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post made me a little misty eyed--especially reading about Matt bringing Christmas Eve food over and the gentleman breaking down. So sad.

I can't imagine leaving a house that had been my home for all those years. Yet, on the other hand, I wonder if remaining there would become too much for me--to be haunted by a memory in every room, around every corner, beneath every shadow.

I hope he returns for a visit, too.

At 7:44 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

What a great post - made me cry a little. I told you, I bawled when my parents moved out of the house I was born in when I was 19 . . . can't imagine what it would be like to live twice that long somewhere, have kids, etc. Who knows? Maybe we'll still be here on O Ave 44 years from now? =)

At 12:21 PM, Blogger amanda said...

Great post... definitely crying over here. Boy am I going to miss this house. And it's only been five years. Can't imagine what he must be going through.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

What a sweet post. I bet your family brought smiles to his face many times over the past six years. I can't imagine living in one place for 50 years, wow. I bet it will be sentimental for his kids to drive by the house, when he isn't living there anymore. Each time we are in Ohio to visit other family members, I always drive by the house my grandparents used to own and where so many of my childhood memories rest. It always makes me a little weepy. Sad that life happens and things change, but also just so happy to have had the chance to make memories there.

At 3:03 PM, Blogger meg said...

plg...that's so sad about the Christmas Eve plate. :(

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Megz said...

Insert teary Internet smiley guy here.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger petite gourmand said...

awe I'm all choked up....what a sweet story and sad at the same time.

we live on an old street with lots of history too and slowly but surely the older generation is moving out and young families moving in.
It's kind of sad really- but I guess it's the cycle of life and not much we can do about it.

I hope your old neighbour is in a nice place and can still visit from time to time.


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I'm a 39 year old stay-at-home mom. I have a 9 year old daughter and a 7 year old son. I have lived in the big city and in the mountains, but am happy to be back in the Midwest, raising the fam. I enjoy laughing, wine, bad karaoke, US Weekly, running, cemetaries, cheese sticks and short hair-dos. In my previous life, I was class-clown and a wanna-be comedian. In my professional life, I'm a journalism major with 10 years of marketing and PR experience. I dream of being a cast member on Saturday Night Live and working at Disney World as Snow White.

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