It Wasn’t Just A House

The outside of the house remained the same since my dad added his horticultural touch back in 1973.  It had grown through the years into a peaceful oasis layered in fern, ivy, pachysandra and a vast array of evergreens. It was an area that welcomed family and friends, even strangers with an soft embrace. The rose bushes filled the courtyard with a sweet aroma, especially on a hot, humid day. It was occasionally the spot for a discrete adolescent phone call and impromptu sun bathing session. The brick pathway with it’s lush greenery was always a favorite place to capture baptism, communion, confirmation, prom and wedding photos.

We talk a lot about home on this blog so I thought it was important to share this part of my life with you. We put my childhood home on the market in the beginning of April, and it has been a gut-wrenching process. As someone who truly loves home and then add in 46 incredible years of memories in one place, it has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I know it seems silly but it has felt like I am saying good bye to my childhood; to my mother, my father, my sister, the memories and our home at all once.

My mom and dad at our annual July 4th celebration.

My sister and dad on a little adventure.

I did the final walk through on Monday afternoon and sobbed as I walked through each and every room, recounting every memory I could retrieve.  I realized something as I stepped through the hallway of a home that hadn’t really been redecorated since my mom was healthy, some 25+ years ago. It didn’t matter. It was a great house. Was it on trend with the latest styles and fads? No, it wasn’t but as I look back, it still was my favorite place in the world to be. Each time, never fail when I opened the front door I was met immediately with a cheerful greeting by my father sitting in his 35 year old corduroy recliner.

One recliner was my mom’s and the other my dad’s. 

I learned to sew at this dining room table when I was 8.

I never thought saying goodbye to a house would be this hard, but really it wasn’t just a house. This home embodied love, strength, resolve and compassion because that it what was valued by the people who lived here. It didn’t matter if it had an amazing white kitchen or new appliances. It was perfect the way it was. It could have been decorated to the nines & in a designer showcase, I would have loved it just the same. That’s the thing, I care about what my home looks like but at the end of the day I care way more about the love, acceptance, joy and compassion that resides there. Hopefully, someday when my boys look back on their childhood home(s) they will be met with the same warm memories and most likely it won’t be because of how it’s decorated. It really puts things in perspective. It’s nice to have a  well designed house but moments and time together in it are worth far more than any magazine spread or accolade.


Update, this was written weeks ago. It just didn’t feel ready to post it. The new owners have moved in and have begun the renovation process. The beautiful landscape job my father did all those years ago is no longer. I honestly still feel at a loss about it, it will just take some time I think. But I suppose the main reason for writing this post was to share with you that no matter where you are in the home ownership or renovation process, home is so much more than what it looks like. And if you are feeling overwhelmed or stuck by lack of time, resources or money just remember that if it’s filled with love then that is all that matters, the rest will come. I know it sounds cliche but trust me it’s true.

Hope you are enjoying your summer! Be back next week for some more office/den updates.


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  1. It was a beautiful house and your story was very powerful,I am so sorry our memories are just so good you know!

    1. It’s true, I am lucky to have such beautiful memories, I try to remember that. Thank you Karen

  2. What a lovely post. Now the new family will build tHeir legacy of love, just as your parents did theirs. And a sharp reminder that things are JUST THINGs. It’s love that endures.

    1. Thank you friend! Vulnerability is not easy to share for me but so glad I did! Much love, Jen

  3. What a heartfelt and touching post you wrote. Isnt it strange the feelings we develop for a home, that dwellings become so much more. I hope your days become easier, and that the new family that dwells there will develop and have the precious family memories that you did.
    Our home is 127 years old, our daughter was the 4 th generation to reside here. We learned to accept that we are mere caretakers to this place, as it most likely still survive after we do! And hope all the Generations were as happy here as we have been.

    1. Oh wow, how wonderful it is still in your family!! Change is inevitable and we do become so attached:)! Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful post! Jen

  4. Oh Jenn, what a heartfelt and moving post. You stated everything so beautifully and I am sure your Mom and Dad are looking down and are proud of you and happy to know how much your family’s Home meant to you and all the wonderful and cherished memories that it help to create for you. as you recall your happy childhood that home will always be forever in your warm and fuzzy thoughts.

    1. Thank you Mrs. P, it was a really tough one to write. The hardest thing I have ever had to go through, the last 7 months. But time heals. In the meantime I will hold onto my treasured memories.
      Much love, Jen

  5. I still thankfully have my only HOME that we ever lived in. Both parents have passed as well as my only sibling,my Brother. We rent it out and THEy don’t keep it as we did. It is breaking my heart to see it, but he works with my husband and has a little GIRL, don’t have the heart to ask them to leave.
    If family can’t stay there and take care of it, maybe this would be better, to let it GO to a new owner.
    My heart breaks for you! It will get better.

  6. This is such a wonderful heartfelt post. It brought back many memories for me from many years ago when I had to sell my childhood home. The purchasers did not take care of it and now it is an empty lot. My heart drops when I HAVE RETURNED AND DRIVEN BY THE “LOT”, BUT THEN MY HEART FILLS WITH MEMORIES AND NO ONE CAN TAKE THOSE FROM US. I am now 72 years old and as the world changes around me, my memories never change. You are very fortunate to have the love and memories to carry with you always.

    1. I am very lucky, I try to remember that especially when I am sad. Oh that must be tough to see that! I guess its not the worst thing that the new owners are investing back into the home then:). Thank you Bev!

  7. Jenn
    What a beautiful post
    The photo of the recliners killed me.
    That house had soul and You paid tribute to your parents by claiming it as your favorite place to bE
    Updating and stripping down older homes CAn sometimes take iTs soul and leave a house feeling on trend but SOULLESS
    There is a classic ranch in my neighborhood that was built in the late 50s. It was timeless until sadly my neighbor passed. THe house was just sold and down came the trees,the shaKes and everything else with character.yesterday as the common blue siding was being installed I pulled over to watch, just for a moment and remember how that classic house looked fo 60 plUs years. I NOTICED the pink vanity on the lawn and it pulled at my heart strings. That vanity was used by by gentleman neighbor for decades. It was good enough for him, but stripped out within days of the new ownership. Sure i understand it ,but within one months time this house will look like every other in the neighborhood…but i will always remember that 90 year old gentleman and his classic ranch.

    1. Ha, I know! My dad loved that house just the way it was. It really has made me think and reevaluate the idea of home. That is so sad. I get it, trying to make a house yours but the history of a home and the little things that made you feel something as you drove or walked past. That was my parents house too. We can get too caught up in making something “perfect” that we lose sight of it’s true beauty.

  8. Dear Jen: the photos of your parents, your childhood home and your comments touched my heart. I knew your dad and he was a perfect gentleman and i am sure your mother was a wonderful woman. I understand your loss but your memories of your family & of your childhood home will always be alive within you. god bless you, john and your family always – and i know that you will pass on your family values & traditions to your two beautiful children!

  9. Hi Jen: I’m going through this myself right now. Thow we haven’t put the house on the market yet we are in the process of preparing for an estate sale. My parents were collectors of 18th Century. It’s lifestyle and sensibilities. They were not wealthy people but they were enthusiastic and talented. If my mOm could imagine it, he could build it. Your words are so true. The echos haven’t hit me yet because they are still under the task at hand but I know I too will shed alot of tears when I walk thru our home for the last time. Home is where your family is.

  10. Words cannot express how touched I was with your post! Thank you for sharing! I am in the same process with my childhood home that my dear father designed and built. It does feel like such a loss. I deeply understand your feelings. Thank you for sharing your heart and being so vulnerable! It truly blessed my heart. Sending sweet blessings your way!

    1. Hi Nancy, thank you. I am so sorry for you as well. Sending you and your family lots of love, Jen

  11. I saw the subject of your post on Insta and had to find the link and read. I remember feeling such extreme sadness selling my childhood home 12 years ago. saying goodbye to a place i could never visit again and what felt like saying good bye to the family that lived there. Your post takes me back and reminds me how lucky I was to have such a home. Thanks.

    1. Hi Andrea, its so true, gratitude changes my entire perspective. While it still hearts it does take the sting away. I feel blessed as well. The words you expressed are true for me as well. Thank you for taking the time to share your story, Jen

  12. My husband and I were instrumental in closing down all of our parents’ homes, and both sets of parents had primary homes as well as vacation homes……so these were big jobs. And you are absolutely right; there are fewer tasks harder than this. It is physically and emotionally draining. I turn 65 (gasp!) in a few days so I’m probably older than most of your readers. I’m definitely older than most of the bloggers who fill page after with the latest up-to-date, magazine worthy renovation photos. They are all lovely (despite the fact that they mostly look alike, LOL), but I wish they could understand how secondary this all is. I’m not suggesting that they don’t know what’s most important……I just know (from experience) HOW important the intangible is. And you really only “get” that with time. Which is a tough nut! It feels like I was having babies only a few years ago, so then who are these 5 grandchildren (ages six down to newborn) filling up my house? I wish I had spent a bit less time fussing over unimportant things when I was younger. In fact, I wish I did less fussing now! But I hear what you’re saying…..the true character of a home has little to do with drapes and slipcovers and (good lord) open concept anything. I’m sorry this was such a wrenching experience for you but what would it have said about your life if it wasn’t? It’s totally appropriate to feel the way you do about saying goodbye. Congratulations to your parents for giving you the gift of fine and loving memories.

    1. Maureen thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment. You are so right on about everything! I have to believe hard things such as this will make me a better human through perspective and compassion. I was very lucky to have such a stable and loving home, what more could I have asked for. Jen

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