A fresh array of thoughts at the intersection of my to do list and society

My mom just sold my childhood home in Jacksonville, Fla. She lived there for nearly 30 years, five of those after my father died in 2004. It was just a house, right? I hadn’t lived there since I moved away for college in 1992. After all, my mom’s the one who was losing all those memories. She’s the one who had to get rid of a lot of furniture and other items she so cherished because her new home doesn’t have the space for it all. She was the one was starting over from scratch, not me.  

It wasn’t until I found my mom’s contact information in my address book that I realized how emotional this was for me as well. This address and phone number has been a part of my life and my parent’s identity in my mind’s eye since I was in the sixth grade, and now it was gone, forever. The moment I looked at it, I stared at the delete button and felt a wave of memories come gushing at me. Those thoughts sent me back to the smell of my parent’s morning coffee, my mom’s pot roast and dad’s after shave. I can still see my dad watching “The Evening News with Dan Rather” reading the paper and my mom ironing her scrubs for the following work week. I can see my sister and me trying to get dressed for school in the morning at the same time in the smallest bathroom EVER!

It wasn’t like when I had to delete my grandfather’s address from my contacts when he died last year. I knew that was coming. And while I have wonderful memories of my grandparents’ home, it wasn’t the home where I got J.B., my first real dog, had my room decorated in the colors I wanted, was confirmed in the Catholic church, got drunk and smoked cigarettes for the first time (like all good Catholic girls should), had my first true love and crushing heartbreak in the same year, was introduced to hip hop music (Salt-n-Pepa or NWA anyone?), graduated from high school, wrote my first poem and created my first “award-winning” artwork piece. These were the events that have shaped me into the person I am today, for better or worse. But when a huge part of those memories is taken out of the equation, for me it changes them somehow. It’s like taking out a big piece of the mystery plot and trying to explain it to others. None of it will make sense to anyone except you.

I begin to sob knowing I will never step foot in our house again. I never got the chance to walk through each room and say “thank you” for putting up with the Shafer’s for all those years. Before settling in Jacksonville, we moved around a lot and I always thanked the house, no matter how short of time we lived there. I did the same thing in college and when my husband, daughter and I moved out of our house in Atlanta last spring. It’s my way of getting closure. I guess knowing this time I won’t have that closure is the most heartbreaking for me right now. But then again, it’s just a house, right?

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Comments on: "A home is where the heart is (was)…" (4)

  1. Nancy said:

    Dana,
    That was beautiful what you wrote about the house.
    I have never been involved with a blog so keep me on your list.

    Nancy

    • Will do, Nancy. You also can subscribe to the blog by adding your email to the address at the bottom left in “subscribe.”

  2. Aunt B said:

    Dana, you hit the nail on the head! I feel as you do, even though we haven’t sold our house, it is still unavailable to me. Me, who lived there 56 years and made biannual trips to visit for the last 30 years. It breaks my heart to see it with other people in it that have no memories to bind it to them. It isn’t JUST a house, it is me and my siblings, nieces, nephew, etc. I do so know how you feel and I don’t know when or how I, personally, will get over it.

  3. Thanks, Aunt B. It is hard to let go. I have great memories of your childhood home too that it breaks my heart to see it go too. I guess it’s just a part of growing up.

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