On the way home a couple of nights ago, I drove by our first house. I make a point to drive down our old street every few weeks to keep an eye on things. The modest neighborhood has held up well.
The trees are way bigger. The oak our neighbor dug up as a weed from her flower bed and helped me plant in our front yard is now at least two stories tall.
It was in this house that three of our four children were conceived. I was folding laundry there the afternoon the call came that Mother had finally succumbed to cancer. It was in this house that we sat around the dining table one Christmas Eve to write my mother’s-in-law obituary and plan her funeral.
In that back yard, we staged countless Easter egg hunts and one first communion. I pulled toddlers up and down that street in a wagon trick or treating with our cat shadowing us by moving from bush to bush to stay hidden and still be close by in case the children might need her.
It was at this house that I had the mail box moved away from the drive before the children started school in anticipation of the young drivers they would become. It was from this house the girls left on their first dates.
Time has faded the names one of our children wrote in crayon on the brick by the kitchen door. The horrific ice storm of the 1990’s felled the huge magnolia in the front yard.
The majority of the street is now Orthodox Jewish as was the last resident of our former home. Their lifestyle is not conducive to home maintenance. Built in 1958, the house is beginning to show its age and require special attention they couldn’t provide. The landscaping is pretty much gone as well as the "in the ground" swimming pool.
I was able to visit the property recently while the house was empty and undergoing repair. The rooms are smaller than our current home; the ceilings a bit lower. The yard seems greatly diminished without the pool but feels cozy. It could be a gardener’s paradise.
Intellectually, I know you can’t go home again; emotionally I’ve never left. There’s as big a chunk of my heart remaining at 5488 as there was on the Holcomb Place back in Bastrop County, Texas, where I spent the first eleven years of my life. But it seems to me, the more of my heart I leave in the places I share with family, the bigger my heart becomes; the more love I have to give.