How do you say goodbye to the house you fell in love with at first sight, where you raised a family, enjoyed a career, and appreciated the view outside each window?
We watched the sun rise over the Alps from the bedroom and living room and saw it set behind the Jura Mountains from the guest room and kitchen.
Here, we endured a quarter of a century of job pressures, personal losses, individual triumphs, petty arguments, home improvement projects.
We watched our children grow up shooting baskets in front of the carport and throwing footballs in the backyard across from golden rape seed fields. We commemorated birthdays and holidays, celebrated championships and graduations, and turned every visit from family and friends into a party.
We savored French favorites dining in front of winter fires and relished summer backyard barbecues, watching sailboats drift across the lake and the clouds float over the mountain range in the ever changing light.
Like our son said, “if only you could take the view with you.”
We sang and danced and played our way through our children’s growing up years. We read the Bernstein Bears, BoxCar Children, and Babysitter Club with grade schoolers, listened to Backstreet Boys and Beyonce with preteens, and watched Friends and The Wire with high schoolers.
When the kids went outside to play on the paved paths intersecting the farmers’ fields, we knew they could ride scooters, bikes and roller blade safely without the danger of speeding cars and deadly guns.
Many years ago, we boxed up the Electric Train Set, Play Mobile Toys, and Beanie Babies to donate. Instead they gathered dust under the stairwell because we could not bear to part with them.
In the process of packing up, we discovered memories tucked away in every attic nook, closet shelf and basement cupboards.
Our house, a compact twin, built on 3 levels, was big enough to store them all.
It was a quirky place. The master bathroom, bigger than the kitchen, had purple bathroom tiles and a tub big enough to swim in. Fifteen stairs between each flight kept us so fit, we never needed to join a health club. The hallway upstairs, which held 3 book shelves, was wide enough for a dining table
We never interior decorated. Yet each photograph and painting held special significance. Dad’s clown face paintings brightened the kids room and his landscapes enlightened the living room. Mom’s cross stitched wall hanging and homemade curtains made us think of family far away.
Cutlery, wine glasses and cooking-ware from Gerald’s folks, along with traditional French recipes, reminded us that the kitchen is the heart of the home.
I’ll never forget walking down the stairs from our bedroom and greeting Mt. Blanc every morning or seeing our son sliding across the hallway in his stocking feet every night.
I will always remember hollering downstairs to wake up our teenage daughter, who adored the independence of a basement room, like I once did.
The sound of a basketball bouncing outside my kitchen window became the background beat measuring our days.
We bid farewell not only to a house, but to our neighborhood, to our international school, to the time of our lives when so much happened, so fast, we wish could turn back time for a moment just once to sit the bench for one more ball game.
It’s been a good house.
It sheltered our souls from crushing setbacks, helped us endure painful transitions, warmed our hearts with good times and gave us the space to learn to forgive and go forward.
Here, we survived heartbreaks and disappointments. We healed from a broken collar bone, an ankle, 2 fingers and umpteen sprains, and recovered illness - pneumonia, mononucleous,viruses. We recovered from accidents, learned to get back up and to keep going.
Our house offered comfort and warmth, shelter and shade.
How do you say goodbye to the home that shaped you?
You don’t. You take it with you.
Every memory, every souvenir, every remembrance.