Monday, June 30, 2014

Dear new owners (lucky you)

Dear new owners of 1311,

Congratulations on your new house. I hope you know how lucky you are.

That house you just bought is so much more than four walls. My family's entire history is in that house, and let me tell you, it's a good one.

It's time for my parents to move on, and I guess it's time for new memories to be made. So, I begrudgingly wish you well. I hope that house is as good to you as it has been to my family for the last 38 years, and I hope you are good to it.

I hope you fill that house with lots of love, laughter and tears. Leave the door wide open to friends and family, and let everyone know they are welcome there. The house has hosted thousands of guests for holidays and dinners and showers and Grey Cups. It's at its best when it's full of life. So fill it.

Make friends with all your neighbours and raise your kids together. Let your kids run and play in the park all year long. Watch them from the kitchen window on the playground, or playing baseball and hide and seek. Plant sweet peas in the side yard and peas and carrots in the garden. Get your kids to help you pick the crab apples in the summer and shovel the driveway in the winter - you will come to regret that it's double wide. Go sledding in the park when they are really little and move to the one across the street when they are a little bigger. Make snowmen and snow ice cream in the winter and run through the sprinkler and after the ice cream truck in the summer. Use the chimney as a backstop for tennis and you should really know that the basketball hoop is a foot too high. Take swimming lessons at the neighbourhood pool and let your kids drink lots and lots of slurpees, but make sure they never hang out there. Find the shortcuts to 7-11 and the tennis courts and let your kids ride their bikes around the neighbourhood and down to Fish Creek.

I hope your kids love that house as much as we do. I hope they chase each other around the kitchen-dining room-living room loop, slide down the stairs on their bums and leap over the back of the couch. I hope they imagine that the sparkles on the ceiling are the flash of tigers claws in the attic and that Babbling Brook is really the bridge to Terabithia. I hope they play for hours and hours in the basement and have a healthy fear of the storage room. I hope they share stories about their day when they brush their teeth together in the upstairs bathroom and that you eat together every night at the kitchen table. I hope they get excited every single time they see a deer in the backyard, even if it is every day. I hope they welcome the familiar sound of footsteps on the front stairs or of the garage door opening, signaling that someone has come home.

Keep your keys on the top of the fridge and assign odd names to each kitchen cabinet such as 'peanut butter cupboard'. Never ever oil the linen closet upstairs as the squeal is oddly comforting. Leave the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceilings. Your kids will love them. Keep the bedroom windows open on warm nights. Be careful of the curb on the driveway and know that it will take practice to back your car out of the right hand side of the garage. The study is the coldest room in the house and the living room is really only meant to be used at Christmas.

Play catch in the park and hit grounders at the ball diamond. Teach your kids to ski at Nakiska. Watch a lot of sports with your kids and teach them the finer points of baseball and hockey and when they are older maybe they'll call just to talk about 'the game'. Let them sulk in their rooms when they are teenagers and when they are older maybe they'll call home just to say hi. Let them bring their friends home after school and have them stay for supper too. When they grow up they will want to keep coming home and their friends will too. Make sure there are fresh flowers awaiting them in their rooms.

If you're really, really lucky your grandkids will get to make memories there someday. You'll watch them playing together in the house that their parents grew up in and realize that buying it was one of the best decisions you've ever made.

That house may just be another move or a big mortgage to you right now, but I hope that someday it will be so much more. I hope that it will be your Home.

It will always be mine.

So if one day a strange woman shows up on your doorstep with tears she can't quite hide please don't call the cops. It's just me, wanting to say hi to my old friend. My Home.