The First of Several Musings about My Family Home

We have cleared out my mother’s home. She is still with us, but must live in the nursing home now. We have to sell the house.

It’s my home. It’s always been my home. I was born into that house and I’ve always had free access to it; I have never lived further than one mile from it. Even now, I live only several houses down on the other side of the street; I can look into her foyer from my foyer.

But it’s empty now. She is not there. No one is there. And all the stuff: the items that filled the home I knew, gone.

Except for what I saved, which is quite a bit. That all sits in my first floor, waiting to be gradually assimilated into my family’s life, into our home. Into our history.

There is a lot of family history. I have books from the 1870’s forward. Books with my father’s mother’s signature on the first page: this book belongs to Mary Elizabeth Holden, and her address. She would have been a teen or young adult. A postcard she wrote from Atlantic City with her photo, aged 18. It is dated 1904.

My mother’s father was presented with a book labeled to him on the inside cover while in the service in World War I: The First Battalion: The Story of the 406th Telegraph Battalion. Inside the cover is a folded page. It is a propaganda leaflet from the Germans. It begins: “The German Peoples Offers Peace.” One side is in English, the other is in French.

There are many items like this, objectively interesting as objects which preserve our past, or things which keep alive the memories of relatives long gone.

Here is one which anyone but me would have thrown in the trash. After all, we couldn’t save everything and my parents were Depression kids and hoarders. It is meaningful only to me. Some context. My father was not an overly affectionate fellow, he tended to be difficult and I must admit that, as a child, I was uneasy when he was home. He was not abusive in any way toward his children but he was an anxious person. Enough said.

It is a corner of a loose leaf sheet about 3″ x 3″. My father tore it off and kept it. In my “fancy” printing: Get me up at 6:30 to do my homework. Madelyn.

Above that, in my father’s unmistakable hand:

Madelyn

age 9

1969

note in mirror

 

 

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7 thoughts on “The First of Several Musings about My Family Home

  1. Salvageable

    As you may recall, I have recently been through the same process. So many memories are triggered by artifacts from the past. I hope that some of the items that you choose not to keep can find a home in an archival collection–family letters and photographs, for example, and other pieces of everyday history from earlier times. J.

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    1. madblog Post author

      I do recall. I should have been clearer–I’m keeping everything I have saved. Unfortunately I was not the only cleaner, and not all of my siblings were as sentimental. I choose not to think about what has been lost. Otherwise I scream inside.

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  2. Citizen Tom

    I am a military brat. Went to four different high schools, but my father and mother stayed in one place after he retired. I supposed I could point to that as home, but it isn’t. I have lived in the house where I now live in Virginia longer than anywhere else.

    What I have noticed is that it is difficult to grow roots into a place. My family is scattered around the country hither and yon. People move into an area, and then they move on, chasing the next job.

    If you have established a place you call home with people around you have always known, then consider that home a blessing. Blessings hurt too, but such having a place we can readily call home blesses more.

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    1. madblog Post author

      I’m blessed to have had access to the same place called home all my life. And so we also established a home with our children, which I would find hard to leave. (Some of them are also finding it hard to leave, but that’s another story!) On balance that’s all good, but it’s hard to lose it.

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