No other dwelling in which you reside during your lifetime will hold a place as near and dear to your heart as your childhood home. I was reminded of this universal truth recently after discovering the home I grew up in was listed for sale. Immediately I felt the urge to visit my old stomping ground to investigate.
The realtor’s sign in the front lawn provided the confirmation I needed. While the yard had been tamed for marketability, the house remained dark and foreboding upon inspection. My family’s secrets were safely stowed behind locked doors with windows drawn tight against the curiosity of onlookers. I was overcome by mixed emotions, wanting so badly to see my childhood home once again yet at the same time remembering how desperately I longed to escape that house in my youth.
Yet I still recall this home fondly, nostalgia creeping in over the years to soften the hard reality of what happened here, making the memories more bittersweet than painful. If the walls of my childhood home could play back the family history that unfolded over twenty-six years, a plethora of movie genres would be revealed: family, drama, comedy, romance, action, adventure, music, crime, sport, horror, war, and the finale an epic tragedy.
My mother developed Alzheimer’s disease while living alone in this house, and we were forced to remove her from the home she loved. After her diagnosis, doctors insisted she must have 24-hour care at all times due to the progression of her illness. By far, remembering how my mother lost her house is the most heartbreaking memory associated with my childhood home.
Should I buy my childhood home back from the gentleman we sold it to eleven years ago out of financial necessity due to my mother’s health crisis? While not out of the realm of possibility, it is a crazy notion based on my family’s dysfunctional history in that house. After careful deliberation, I’ve decided it would be a mistake to buy my childhood home to preserve the past in a misguided attempt to atone for it at the same time.
I’ve moved on with my life. Thankfully, I am not the same innocent, injured adolescent who suffered in that house. I’ve found a maturity, wisdom and forgiveness with myself, my family, and the past, as has most of my family. My childhood home needs a new family to break the curse. For whoever is destined to live there next, I wish for happy and loving family memories to silence the misery that may linger like an old movie repeating endlessly on cable television.
It is true, just as Dorothy discovered in another great movie, “There’s no place like home.” I’ll never, ever forget this house, but I am now prepared to let it go, just as I have the pain of the past.
Are memories of your childhood home happy or sad? Would you ever consider going back to live in your childhood home if you had the chance?