This past Sunday I walked out of my Mother’s house for the last time before we close on it this Friday. You see, my Mother passed away a little over a year ago at the age of 97 1/2 and we have spent the last year clearing out the house so we can sell it. It’s strange, but I didn’t have much emotion leaving. Mama lived in that house for 18 years, having moved from the house I grew up in where she lived for 45 years and we have had some wonderful memories there but to me it wasn’t really her home. Plus there is a wonderful couple buying it.
This brings up the subject of can a house have a spirit? Yeah, I know, a house is an inanimate object and can’t possible have a spirit, but we can be spiritually connected to a house, especially if that house was your childhood home. I remember the first time we walked into Mama’s house, the one we’re now selling, after she passed away. It wasn’t the same. When she was there the house had a life, but that day it felt like any other house; cold and empty. As we went through her possessions, laughing at some things, crying over others, wondering about many of them, the house seemed to take on a life again as if she was there “supervising” but after we removed everything we wanted and were left with just “stuff” the house went back to being, well, just a house again. No personality.
As a contrast, a few years ago we visited her old house, originally built around 1920. I lived there from when she bought it in 1955 (I was one year old) until I moved out at 19. The couple that bought it from her had done some work on it and sold it to another couple who had made some major improvements to it. Walking into that house even though it had changed drastically, gave me a shiver. This door was gone, and moved somewhere else. Rooms were configured different. There were bathrooms where they used to be none, and where there used to be one there was something else. A good portion of the back was torn off and expanded. It didn’t look the same, it looked like another house but the feeling I got walking into it was like coming home.
So is it that I grew up in the old house, and didn’t in the new? What gave that house a personality? I know that Mama gave the newer house it’s personality, because when she was gone so was it. Makes me wonder how my kids feel about my wife and my old house, the one they grew up in. How would they feel if they walked into that house today? What gives a house it’s spirit?