My grandparents’ house – where they made a home, raised my dad, my aunt, and my uncle, and helped to raise our generation.
They took a humble space, worked hard, made a home, and raised a family.
Last week, my dad, aunt, and uncle closed on selling the house to a new person for whom it will become a whole new home. It was a bittersweet day in many ways, for them directly, and indirectly for our whole family…
In this home, my dad and his siblings were raised. In this home, I spent many nights with grandma and grandpa. In this home, I got to drink grape soda, eat caramels and jawbreakers, and have hamburgers & french fries for dinner and pancakes & orange juice for breakfast.
In this home, I played pool in the basement with my uncles, admired my grandpa’s beer can collection and the bar my grandma built with her bare hands, and enjoyed playing their pinball game. In this home, the American flag and Japanese flag both flew proudly.
To this home, I rode my bike the few blocks to relax and “escape” my own house for a bit, every once in a while. In this home, I slept on the couch while grandpa slept in his reading chair, watching me. In this home, I also acted asleep on the hide-a-bed in the back room while my mom and dad talked about the ups and downs of marriage with grandma and grandpa.
In this home, I read the newspaper every day after preschool and kindergarten with my aunt – my earliest memories of reading. In this home, I played with electronics with my uncle. In this home, I picked roses and gave them to grandma. In this home, we gathered as family and enjoyed times together.
In The Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola reminds us that the purpose of our existence is “to know, to love, and to serve God and so to attain our salvation – eternal happiness.” In the same Exercises, he teaches of our nearly irresistible attraction toward things that continues to pull us away from our creator and toward created things. He encourages us to remember that created things are created for us to be neutral toward, but to remind us of and continue to point us toward God our Creator. We’re to rid our soul of “inordinate attachments” toward created things.
In the first paragraph of the book of The Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius writes, “By the term Spiritual Exercises is meant every method of examination of conscience, of meditation… and every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the Will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.” (Emphasis mine).
This is hard at times, especially moments like this when we’re letting go of something that was so central to our childhood and family life. But, at the end of the day, it is a house, a place, a created thing. We don’t love the place for the place, but for how it turns us toward God. And in that sense, this home was a very special place that was a center for our family life and our growing toward God.
In the last few weeks, I was able to help my dad and my uncles (who had invested much time and energy getting the house ready to sell) move the last “things” out of the house. A refrigerator went to my aunt & uncle’s house. My grandpa’s grandfather clock has a new home in my dining room (this is very special to me). My parents have moved the dining room table into their own home. These last things are our last, very special, ties to the moments in and memories from that old home.
We now have new homes, new branches in our family tree. And their old house will serve a new family.
Farewell, 3272 Edgewood Avenue. May you be a good home for a new family, serving them well and helping them grow toward God and each other, as you did for our family.
(Photos from my sister Sara’s phone, from her last visits to the house)