I recently talked with a friend who is going through some of the same things that my husband and I went through when we decided to buy an old historic home.
Located in the beautiful downtown area of our city, I first saw our home when my husband actually sent me to look at the house for sale next door. I just knew I saw a diamond in the rough in the neighboring house, though, and had to have it. I thought we could take this house and make it our home.
Most people thought we were absolutely crazy, for the house needed so much work. You literally could see the ground through the hardwood floor in one of the bedrooms. It’s funny now to think about, but it wasn’t then.
After many discussions with our family — many of which found them looking at us as if we had lost our minds — we put an offer on the rundown house and it was accepted. The house was worth absolutely nothing, so we had to gut the whole thing and start from scratch.
It took us at least 10 months to complete the renovations. We lived with my husband’s parents and found ourselves juggling small children, our jobs and late-night work on the house. You can imagine the stress that put on our family. Looking back, there were so many laughs we should have had, but at the time, there were tears and lots of frustration. But in this frustration, there were also beautiful memories made.
I will never forget when we finally moved in, walking our kids to the local elementary school as my daughter started kindergarten and my son began first grade. In this home we had birthday parties, we celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving, we hosted family get-togethers, and had many late nights in the kitchen with our teenaged kids and their friends. We hosted exchange students. We brought animals home, making them a part of the family until it was their time to go, and then burying them in the backyard.
As time went on, my children got older, and my son went off to college. Then a wonderful young man came along and asked to marry my daughter, so just my husband and I were left, and there was way too much house for just the two of us. We knew it was time to sell, but we had no idea what we were going to move on to.
I remember packing up boxes and packing up memories, looking at the different imperfections on the wall where one kid had colored with a pencil and another scratched something, or where the dog got ahold of the baseboard. These slight imperfections in our home brought back so many beautiful memories, and I wanted to take every one with me, knowing we were about to close on the house and have our last night there.
I also remember the looks on my kids’ faces, the sadness that this house where so many things happened would not be our home anymore.
But once the move finally happened and we were away, we all realized that it was not the house that made the home; it was us. It was our family. It was the moments we shared together; it was the things we did together. Those memories were ours, and we could carry them with us wherever we went.
Occasionally we drive by the old house just to see how it’s changed. The paint is different, as are the decorations. It doesn’t look like our house anymore because it isn’t. We miss our home, but now we’re making new memories.
If you are going through something like this — building a home, looking for one, or even remodeling it — remember that it’s not about the structure itself, it's about the people who are in it. Cherish those people, cherish those moments, and take your memories with you wherever you go.
Ashley Carter is a wife, mother, and grandmother living in Elmore County where she and her husband run Farm to Table Living and Carter Farms. Ashley serves as Controller and Executive Assistant at 1819 News. She is currently working on an inspirational book of short stories. To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email email@example.com.
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