Sunday, March 1, 2009

This Old House

I love this old house I live in. It is the home of my childhood, and it is a big, old, American four-square, and I love it. My husband on the other hand does not always share my love for this old house. Even the smallest home improvement endeavor turns into a major project for Ray. I know when I see him with his tools out it is time for everyone to cover their ears because soon the swear words will be flowing! Old house, old wiring, old pipes, etc. equals big problems for a do-it-yourself project. But I know he does share a love of some things in this house, we both love the character of this old house, the stucco-plastered walls, the craftsmanship of the hand-plastered ceilings and crown moldings, and the built-in shelves in our dining room. Neither one of us loved the old kitchen too much though (peeling wallpaper, leaky sink, painted cabinet doors and drawers that always got stuck shut), but we both loved having it done over, and we both had fun picking out everything new, and I love that the new kitchen is his design. I thought I would be sad with too many changes to the kitchen I grew up in, but Ray did me proud, I love it. And we both love having family and friends over to our house, especially in the summer for pool parties. We both come from big families, so there are times I wish this old house were a little bigger, but all-in-all, I love this old house.
I first moved into this house in 1963 when I was nine years old. My parents moved us from a small three bedroom semi-attached house (that had grown much too small for a family of nine) to the 'new' house (which was about sixty years old then) that had six bedrooms and seemed like a mansion! I lived here until the day I got married at nineteen years old. I have a lot of nice memories growing up in this house, all the friends, all the relatives, birthdays, graduations, holidays, Holydays, Sacraments, lots of fun, lots of fights (there were seven kids!), and lots of love.
I was pregnant with my fourth child when my Mom called to ask if I would like to have my family move into their house. The house she said was too big for them now (although they still had my two younger brothers and my younger sister living at home at that time), and my Mom said that with her having gone back to work full-time the house was getting to be too much for them to keep up with it. I really think it was just my parents looking out for one of their own as usual, as we were in a two bedroom apartment at the time. And, by the way, the house we were living in at the time was also a house my parents had bought a few years before. My husband, myself, and our three kids (with fourth on the way) lived in the apartment upstairs and my brother, his wife, and two kids lived in the apartment below us. My parents also owned the house next door to them and another brother and his family lived in the apartment downstairs over there, and my grandmother (my Dad's Mom) lived in the apartment upstairs. It is very easy to see that my parents had more than merely generous hearts. Ray and I were more than grateful, and more than happy and eager to jump at the offer, and a few months later we were settled into this old house. My sister Diane stayed on with us and was always there to help with the kids, lend a hand, and support us in more numerous ways than I can count for the few years she was with us before she got married and moved out.
It will be twenty-seven years this June since my family moved back into the old house I grew up in, our youngest daughter and our youngest son were born after we moved here, and the house has seen it's share of commotions with our five kids, their cousins, and their friends, (along with three dogs), and there were never many dull moments in this house, not in my childhood nor after my own family made it their home. I have so many fond (and some not so fond) memories of my own kids growing up in this house, all the milestones, the heartaches, and the joys, and I embrace each and every one of them, the not-so-good along with the very good. Our son, Erik, married his sweetheart Lori, and they gave us our granddaughter, beautiful Mia. Our oldest son, Brian, and our youngest son, Andrew, have moved out to apartments of their own. Our daughter Katie and her son Jayden, and our daughter Ellie still make their home here, so the house is still full and now with the grandkids we have more opportunities to create many more memories for them and for us. This house has always been a bustle of activity, for as long as I can remember, lots of people in and out to this day, friends and family that come to visit for an hour, and friends and family that come to stay for a weekend, or for a year or more. My Mom always made this house a welcome haven for everyone, our door was always open.
We are far from a perfect family, and as is bound to happen in a big family, sometimes there are more of us on the 'outs' with each other rather than 'in' and embracing the family circle, but I hope I do justice to my Mom and the house that she too loved. And I hope that each and every one of my family knows that if they ever knock on this front door, it will opened to them and they will be welcomed into this old house.

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