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When a friend in Boynton Beach sold his vacation home in Highmount New York, his daughter Michelle penned an essay to commemorate the happy weekends the family shared there for close to 40 years. The house, she said, “was the heart and soul of our family.’’
She wrote about walls that kept the family warm and sheltered and the many meals they shared in that house along with arguments, tears and laughter. She wrote about the beautiful sunrises and sunsets they watched as a family, and even the falling snow that made them worry whether the car could get up the driveway to the house. There was swimming in the summer and skiing in the winter.
A house might just be a shell or a structure, but for Michelle it was a special place because of the love she shared with her family.
“We had grown up there in more than just years; we have grown together for which I treasure,’’ she said.
It was during a trip to New York when I yearned to revisit my house in Oceanside, a sleepy suburban South Shore community on Long Island.
I had often daydreamed of that three-bedroom, split-level house with the blossoming apple tree in the yard. It was there my husband and I lived for 30 years. It was there we raised our three daughters and watched them grow from babies to young adults.
I searched through my memory bank to recall the decades of my life there as a mother and wife, a neighbor, friend and an active member of the PTA.
It was 30 years of love, passion, anger, illness and loss. Thirty years of diapers, graduations, laundry and disappointments. All that now seems like I lived another life.
Feeling a bit brazen, I rang the bell, introduced myself, and as I had hoped, was invited inside. The décor differed, the rooms seemed smaller.
As I stood by the front door, I remembered when Laurie, out past her curfew, tried to sneak in the back door. Determined to reprimand her when she came home at 2 a.m., I was so relieved that I embraced her instead.
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As I walked through the den I recalled Kimberly, the youngest of three, uttering her first words — dada — and pointing to me.
In the living room, I could hear Jennifer practicing for her piano recital.
“Here Comes the Sun,’’ a favorite Beatles song, still plays in my head.
The backyard where our daughters spent hours on the swing set is gone. But somehow I can still hear the laughter where the three played house and rambled through the garden. As I walked along the driveway, I revisited the many hours they played jump rope with their dad and me taking turns as steady enders.
The house now belongs to another, but the memories of life in that house, will live within me forever.
Bea Lewis is a journalist, author and public speaker who lives in Boynton Beach.