The Memory of Home
When we re-launched the Coldwell Banker digital platforms, we did so because we know that no place has a better story than home. What we couldn’t anticipate are the heartwarming and heartbreaking stories the walls would tell.
Guest post by Kim Jones. Kim is the director of marketing services at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Group in Boise, Idaho.
On November 1st, fire departments in the little Idaho valley where I grew up burned down a house for a training exercise. I saw the post on Facebook.
At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It took me a minute to understand what it was, and then I didn’t know how to feel. The house with the flames shooting out the windows and roof was my house. I grew up there in the 60s and 70s. My dad lived there until 1984, and my mom until 1991. It was the only house my mom and dad owned together and the only house we’d known as a family. Logic and reason told me it was a good thing, an expected thing. Sadly, the house hadn’t been maintained at all since my mom sold it, so it was also a needed thing.
But then the tears came. In torrents. For some reason, the photo of the fire crew kneeling before the blaze struck me in the heart. One firefighter in particular, with her beautiful, sweet smile, said it was fun, and that hurt me.
Don’t get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for these brave individuals. Thank God we have them. And thank God there are places they can practice because the real thing is a lot more serious.
I just want – and need – to talk about the home. MY home. This was the yard where my brother and I played, where we slept out most summer nights, and where the whole town, it seemed, parked their campers and motor homes so our large, extended family had places to sleep and be together when, in August of 1984, my dad died.
The chimney that, in recent years, had begun to lean was built entirely by his hands, with bricks from the old elementary school just down the street. Dad was the principal of the high school then, and the school district gave the bricks to him when they tore down the school. Dad, Mom, my brother, and I cleaned those bricks one by one for the chimney Dad would build. He paid us kids 10 cents an hour to help, but I would have done it for free because Dad was my best friend, and that scaffold was nothing more than my own personal jungle gym. I loved scrambling up and down, filling the bucket with bricks for Dad to haul to the top.
Inside, the living room was the place we gathered most. In front of that beautiful fireplace where pictures were taken and Christmas stockings were hung. Where Santa burst through the door one snowy Christmas Eve and where our sleeping bags from the yard ended up sometimes after one too many ghost stories. It was where Dad and I played Boggle and cribbage and where he and my brother watched sports and hung out. Where Mom, with the patience of Job, taught me how to embroider and helped me decorate our giant picture window for every holiday. It was where she hosted birthday parties and led my brother’s Boy Scout troop.
It’s the room where Dad died in the early morning hours of August 5th, 1984, of a heart attack at just 50 years old. And the room where our friends and family gathered to support my mom then and in the lonely days and weeks that followed. And a few years later, it was the room that hosted a good deal of the town at the open house and going away party when Mom decided to sell and move to Boise to be closer to me.
I could go on and on reliving the dear, sweet memories that the house holds for me, but you get the picture, I think. As I lay awake in the early, early morning of November 2nd trying to figure out exactly why this has hit me so hard, it occurred to me that losing this house makes it seem like we never existed, that we have been forgotten somehow.
But then, through even more tears, I realized that the house provided the structure for these wonderful memories to be built. The home and those memories live in the heart, and they can never really be lost. Losing the house only sweetens and sharpens the memories. I’m thankful for the amazing childhood I had because of my family, the valley, and that house.
So, I say thank you to the firefighters. I hope they gained valuable skills that will one day help them in their service to the community and to save lives.
Visit our new home at coldwellbanker.com and tell us what memories your home would share, if only walls could talk.