On Visiting An Old Home

Take it from someone who has rented far more than he has owned: Moving often from place to place stinks. And temporary homes can be difficult places to create family memories. Before us we have the case of a small family of four who lived in a house for three years before having to move out. The husband, wife, and two small kids moved into a place south of Baltimore in the early 1960s because of the husband’s work. While there, the wife had lost an infant son, so there was that trauma the family went through while living there. On the other hand, the family also experienced some joy there, as families do, on holidays and birthdays and the like.

Then, in the third year there, the husband passed away suddenly. The young widow had to move, and she decided that she and the two children under the age of 6 should move in with family up north. The owners of the property were sympathetic to the tragic circumstances; they allowed the woman and her kids to take all the time they needed to pack up. However, knowing that she really couldn’t stay there (and another family waited for them to vacate), the woman managed to organize a move from the house within two weeks after her husband’s funeral.

Years passed.

As the children grew, the woman often thought of that house that had held such mixed memories for her. On the other hand, she also recognized that the place was the only house in which her kids shared any memories of their dad. So, she made arrangements to take her children, by then aged 13 and 10, back to the old house for a visit. She wrote to the then-occupants of the residence and asked if she and and the children could drop by sometime for a quick visit.

She received a warm letter in return welcoming the family back. And so it was, in 1971, that the widow–who had since remarried–and her two children went back to the house where they had lived almost 8 years earlier. Those occupants of the house welcomed them warmly because they understood that, even if the house was a temporary home, it was still home because of the memories made there, memories both good and bad.

The two children were taken in hand by the current occupant’s two older daughters. The four kids played with the family’s dogs while the adults visited. The widow quietly but sincerely thanked the occupants for being so accommodating in allowing them to intrude. The short visit concluded with good wishes, and when the family returned home, both children wrote letters of thanks back to the host family, telling them how wonderful it was to be in the only place where they remembered their dad.

The woman also penned a heart-felt thank you note.

“You can’t imagine the wonderful gift the your family gave me, and my children,” Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wrote to Pat Nixon.


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