Handing down, passing on, letting go.
In 1990, after almost 25 years in Newhall, my parents decided to move and build their dream house. Like most things, dream houses change and evolve over the years. When I was just about six-months-old in 1962 their dream house was in Placerita Canyon and that’s where they went. From the small city life of Granada Hills to the country life of rural Newhall.
A few years prior, they had bought five acres of land in Agua Dulce with the plan of building the house they designed and wanted. And what a house it turned out to be.
Roxanne was two, Cole hadn’t blessed us yet, and I was no longer working at my part-time paralegal job. My dad hired me to be the contractor to facilitate and oversee the building of their home since he was back to work at the State Bar since retiring from the DA’s office and my mom was still teaching Third Grade in Palmdale.
He bought me one of those giant, new, plug-in car phones that took up half the front seat. Armed with my fancy phone, legal pads, empty folders, a toddler, and no construction experience, I set out on this crazy adventure with my parents.
They knew what they wanted and obviously had spent hours and hours discussing their vision together. The dream was a Spanish-style build with heavy Mexican influence. Extra-thick interior walls, tons of windows, imported Mexican tile, and hand-crafted wooden doors, perfectly weathered beams and three inviting, artistically designed fireplaces.
Do you know what the word “undulated” means? I didn’t either, and neither did the plasterers. My dad did, and he wanted the entire interior plastered with a specific undulation.
I can picture my dad now, in his calm and gentle manner trying to explain to the plasterers what he wanted, after a couple of failed attempts. I see his hand moving slowly and delicately waving over the wall. Eventually he was able to convey exactly what he wanted. The walls of that house are spectacular. They are smooth, wavy, full of personality, and have the perfect amount of undulation. I sometimes find myself touching those walls and rubbing my hand gently over the surface.
Within the walls of that house are also where laughter and tears occurred, lessons were learned, memories were made, and parties happened.
My mom loved to entertain; from her giant Christmas open houses, family Thanksgivings, birthday celebrations, teacher friends gatherings, housing out-of-town guests, to simply a glass of wine with the neighbor. The house was filled with laughter, love, and food.
I know that my kids have their own moments and memories of their time in that house with their grandparents. They spent more time there because we were fortunate to be able to leave them there with my mom and dad when we went out on the town or out of town.
I have pictures that my mom took of them there – messy hair, pajamas, and huge smiles. I know they usually had chicken, corn, and mashed potatoes for dinner, and if stories are true, ice cream for breakfast. I’m glad they have their own memories to look back on and share with each other. Cars, dogs, donkeys, lectures, magic tricks, truck rides, and so many other things they can carry forward in their minds and hearts.
I too have amazing happy memories from there, but I also carry sadness because of the pain that cancer brought. Even though some of my most difficult moments happened in that house, those times made me grow, and learn what is most important in life. Lessons I carry with me every day.
My mom and dad passed away in 2008, and 2009 respectively, and until now, I have done my best to maintain and keep their house and property.
Handing down, passing on, letting go.
It is time. For about the past two years I have finally been able to start thinking about letting go. I don’t have the time, energy, or desire to keep up with the house anymore. As Marie Kondo would say, it doesn’t “spark joy.” The memories do, but the empty structure does not. It has become a house instead of a home.
Its time to pass the house on to a new family – time for it to become a home again. The walls need to once again be filled with laughter and love. We accepted on offer this week, and escrow started Wednesday. If all goes according to plan, come mid-April, a new little family will be moving into their dream home.
The words, support, and love that I’ve received from Bill and the kids helps me to keep things in perspective. As Roxanne has shared in words that I can’t possibly do justice by my memory, we are all so very fortunate to have many items passed down from them. Small items that evoke memories and remind us of happy times. Our gifts and blessings that fit in our hearts and our own homes, are what we have now, and how wonderful it is to pass on the love of that home to others who will make and carry their own memories. Just this last week while sitting in Cole’s house, seeing artwork and items that once adorned his grandparents’ house, brought such happiness to me.
My friends and family have also been extremely helpful throughout this process. They too have their special memories in that house, and they will keep them long after the house changes hands. One of the favorite messages I got was from my cousin Shauntel who has her own memories to keep. When we listed the house in January she said, “The wonderful thing about memories is, we don’t have to sell them.”
So if you are a person who loved my parents and spent time at their amazing house, please search your thoughts and recollections for your favorite moments, remember the laughter you shared, and yes, the tears also, because those belong to you forever. Those belong to you, not to the house.