Each time I’ve visited Mom’s house recently, it looks different than the time before. Another room sits bare. The living room is stacked higher with more Dole fruit boxes, appropriately labeled.
The house has undergone a lot of changes over the years. In fact, although my parents lived in the same house for twenty-two years, our house never stayed the same. Mom’s daily effort was to make it more beautiful, comfortable, welcoming, and useful.
We aren’t a terribly sentimental family when it comes to stuff. My parents never spent too much time living in the past—there is so much to do in the present! So our home wasn’t about preserving memories so much as making more.
The peach bedroom I once shared with my two sisters (bunk beds and a trundle—but Janelle would always sleep with one of us!) eventually became Janelle’s bright red room. It was Janelle and Mike’s when they lived there the first time and now it is Chad’s (sometimes messy one) for a few more days.
The living room where as little girls we sat on the couch and read Grandma’s Attic books with Mom and slept under the Christmas tree became the dining room that could sit all the sons-in-law and grandkids.
The kitchen table where Dad read us many a dinnertime story is long gone. Actually, it was our first kitchen table. A lot of my parent’s old furniture was (and is) in our house now.
The spare bedroom in the basement used to be Dad’s office. But it has also been home to Josh Harris, Brian and Kristin, Mike and Janelle, Steve and me (when I was recovering from surgery), then Mike and Janelle again, and now Dad and Mom are using it for the last few weeks.
The kitchen got a much-needed remodeling after I moved out. I still can’t find the drinking glasses.
Amid all these changes, and even with boxes piled high, that house still feels like home for one reason: Mom is there. In fact, when I stop to think about the house I grew up in, that is what I remember most—not the wall color or the knick knacks or the furniture, but how Mom’s love of beauty, her devotion to her husband and children, her work ethic, her pursuit of cleanliness and order, her peace and joy, her constant presence permeated the entire house. I can relate to a little boy who, when asked, “Where is your home?” replied, “Where mother is.”
So if you were to ask me if I am sad about my parents moving out of the house I grew up in, I’d say, not at all. Home is just moving down the street. It is, and always will be, where Mom is.