Goodbye House


My father is selling his house of 37 years.  The house he built with my mother that reflects their vision, design, and love. My mother’s been dead for almost a year. My father followed the advice he gave to others, as an attorney, and did not make any big changes for a year.

Compared to losing a loved one, all other changes seem superfluous. People ask me how I feel about my father selling the family home. I feel oddly detached about it.  Losing my mother was hard. Saying goodbye to a house feels easy by comparison.

It is a beautiful, unique, light-filled contemporary home. My father was always so tickled when people he met mentioned that they’ve been in our house and how nice it was. True confession time, Dad. Whenever you and mom left town and had the poor judgment to leave us home unattended, I had scores of raging parties there as a teenager and young adult. It was all part of the joy of that wonderful house. Ah, good times.

Then I grew up and appreciated the house as a home. I brought my husband to meet my parents there, celebrated many occasions together with my own children and their grandparents, gathered for holidays, and nestled in for quiet times. I went there to tell my parents I had breast cancer. My mother died in that house.

Somehow the house lost its soul when my mother left this earth. My Dad keeps up the house beautifully, but as he says himself – it’s just not the same. The house is no longer the center of the family without my mother there. It’s just a house. I’m grateful that he’s able to get it ready for sale on his own. My mother, in her infinite wisdom, had been thoughtfully distributing her things for years to her children and grandchildren so there is not an overwhelming amount of “stuff” for my father to sift through. In fact, the social worker in me thinks it’s a lovely way for him to do “life review” as he goes through the memorabilia of his 54-year married life with my mother.

It will be strange to visit my father in another home. My sister and her family will have to stay with me when they come to town to visit, which is a bonus for us. It will be very strange for her, I’m certain, to lose her home-base.

So yes, I’m okay with the selling of the house. My grief is settling into a place where I can be less sentimental and more practical. Keeping that house won’t bring my mother back. As long as my father’s ready for the next chapter, I too can move on.

Like the saying goes, home is really in the heart anyway.




12 thoughts on “Goodbye House

  1. Thanx for the cry. It is not a cry of pain but a cry of sentiment and love. We have the memories – the wonderful memories of the lives we have lived and in the process the preparation for the next chapter. You Mom gave us all the tools with which to move on. It just isn’t as much fun without her but we will all be just fine.

    You know people you love in a sense really do not die because you are transformed partially into them. You find yourself doing what they used to do – saying what they used to say – guaranteed to bring a smile to your face every time.

    Love you,


  2. You are a wonderful writer, good for you with being okay with selling the house. I wish your dad the best in his next chapter.

  3. thank you for this lovely essay…Tomorrow night and Saturday morning two families will stroll through my house and decide if this is their next home. My husband and I built this house 25 years ago this Sept 18th. The land was an empty soybean field and my husband planted every tree, bush, grass and together we tended many flower beds…There are 17 white pine trees and 31 assorted trees on five acres; complete with a free standing tree house and a beautiful red barn that has hosted several fall parties and two high school graduations.. My children rode bikes on the road, snowmobiles and dirt bikes in the field…I can’t recall how many times I called them in the house for dinner, bed or just to see what they were doing .We started countless traditions, sang many happy birthdays and together we created a magical sanctuary that radiates love, happiness and joy….called Home…but like your Dad it is time for me to part with the preservation of memories….because the house no longer has that certain sorta spark – My husband took that with him when he died 2 1/2 years ago

    Like you my grief has become more practical and our center of the universe shifted…Now with Gods blessing and a little push I will create different universe for my children to barrel down the hatches of life, put up their feet, sing more songs.


  4. Love this…

    On Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 3:17 PM, Let Me Tell You Something… wrote:

    > Susan Margolis Stillman posted: ” My father is selling his house of 37 > years. The house he built with my mother that reflects their vision, > design, and love. My mother’s been dead for almost a year. My father > followed the advice he gave to others, as an attorney, and did not make > any”

  5. I loved this Susan. Your father said it for sure, you become part of them as they live on within you. I know your mother is watching over your family and gently guiding you as you move through your lives. Here’s to new memories! Oh, and having your sister stay with you is priceless, atleast the first couple of times.

  6. Life is filled with many chapters. With luck and good fortune we bring the best from the past and enjoyment in the present and hope for the future. Your mom is so proud of the legacy she has left. You all seem to have love and respect for yourselves And each other. Good luck. Very touching blog.
    Joy P.

  7. Wow! I shed tears of laughter, oh the times in the house- I still remember the first time I came there; tears of joy and tears of sadness. Your amazing with your acceptance and your insight. Good for your Dad that he can move on and look at this move in a positive light.
    Wonder what Abby meant by “at least the first few times” – she better still love me visiting and staying with her :)…
    Thank you for a wonderful story to read!

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