Twenty-four years

September 26, 2008 | My Jottings

The house I have lived in longer than any other house will go on the market tomorrow. We moved out of it in March of this year and have been slowly getting it ready to sell for a while. It needed some paint touch-ups and Michael decided to sheet rock closets and paint the basement walls and floor too. Now in the current economic crisis, it seems like it will take a miracle to sell our beloved old house. 

My mom was a compulsive mover, and I am not. I am a compulsive stayer. My mom lived in thirty-seven homes in her lifetime, always looking for a place that would make her happy.  I, on the other hand, always feel that change will ruin things, and that if I could only stay put I would be content. Nevertheless we finally moved to a different house three miles away, and each day the new place is beginning to feel a little more like home.

I lived in my first house from birth to age three. The next one was from my third until my fifteenth year. Then my mom and I lived six months in an apartment. Then one year in a house. Then one year in another house, when my Grandma moved in with us. Then one year in another house, after Grandma decided to move back to Kansas City. Then at age eighteen I got married and lived for six months in a three room trailer on the banks of Yuba River in Smartville, CA. Then we lived for two years in base housing at Beale AFB, then on to Germany we went, where we lived almost two years in two houses. At age twenty-two I found myself divorced, and my two little girls and I returned to Southern California where we lived in three places in two years. When I was nearly twenty-four years old I married Michael, a native Minnesotan, and moved to American Siberia. Our first house was a cute rental and we were there three years. Then we bought our own home in a quiet neighborhood not far from Lake Superior – a dumpy Victorian, built in 1895, with good bones and lots of potential, and we stayed for just under twenty-four years. I lived in that old house from age twenty-seven until I was fifty years old.

I cried on the day we moved in to that place because it needed so much work and I had no vision. “I can make this a nice home”, Michael assured me. “Tell me what you don’t like and I’ll change it.” And over the course of that twenty-four years, my talented and hard-working husband tore down every bit of old plaster and lathe, and sheet rocked and taped every wall and ceiling. He tore down walls, made two smaller rooms into a huge kitchen. He replaced all windows but one. He put a two bedroom addition on the house. He built a half bath on the main floor. He enlarged the full bath on the second floor. He roofed the house, he sided it. He installed soffit and fascia. He put up crown moulding. He jacked up the two-car garage and tore out the old slab, pouring a new slab and extending the garage to hold four cars (or actually, two cars and all his boy-toys and other stuff). He built two decks. He did so much more than I am listing here. He transformed that raggedy old first house into a place I truly loved, a place where we raised daughters, had our first, second, third and fourth dogs, held Bible studies and welcomed friends for dinner, laughed and cried and rested and home schooled and dreamed and prayed and hoped and lived.

And now the for sale sign will go up in the front yard tomorrow. Today I spent a few hours at the old house getting it in ready-to-show condition, doing the final paint touch ups, cleaning the bathrooms and scrubbing the floors, snipping off the stalks of the old hosta blooms in the yard, and carting out the final few odds and ends still there. It felt like such a momentous closure to lock the door and drive away.

The twenty-four years we spent in that charming house with the round window on the third story, were years that shaped my life in ways I’ll never forget. Thank you, Lord, for all that you blessed us with there, all you helped us with. Thank you for giving us a home.


  1. Dorothy Sooter says:

    What a wonderful story about a home you loved so much. It truly was a ‘great house’. With all the trouble I have sleeping including at my own home, I always slept like a baby at your home. I felt it was because of the ‘the Love Of The Lord’ that was so much a part of you and Michael’s lives and your home was His home. Love, Dorothy

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