Every spring when the snowball bush and the poppies begin to bloom, I think of Mrs. Grimsic. I wonder how old was she when she planted these flowers. And did anyone help her in the flower garden, or was it time she spent by herself to sift through her thoughts? 

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When Mrs. Grimsic passed away, her son was left to sell the family home. Built in 1950, new construction was not nearly as glamorous as it can be today. As soon as the basement was finished, all five Grimsics moved in while the rest of the house was completed.

At least that’s the story Mrs. Barlow told us after we moved into the Grimsic house. The Barlows built their home next door around the same time, so I accept Mrs. Barlow’s version of history without question.  

It’s been twelve years since Mrs. Grimsic’s home became our home. Back then, Mr. Barlow was still mowing his grass next door and maintaining his impeccable yard. He’s been gone for a handful of years now.

When he passed away, his full grown sons — old enough to be grandfathers themselves — picked up where he left off. The lawn is always mowed, the old fashioned Christmas decor appears every December, and Mrs. Barlow’s sons always have a wave for us. Much like their father did. 

Earlier this spring, Mrs. Barlow passed away, too. 

I took my little girl to the estate sale on a mission to buy one of her tea cups. I didn’t expect to hold back a flood of tears as we browsed through her things. The books, the record collection, the jewelry, and the old fashioned Christmas decorations were evidence that she really was here just a few weeks earlier.

**** 

We found a set of three tea cups and saucers at the estate sale. Scenes of a post-kindergarten summer tea for my daughter and her two best friends immediately appeared in my mind’s eye. Sipping tea out of Mrs. Barlow’s tea cups and giggling all the while.

That I have a daughter old enough for a tea party with friends reminds me that in a blink of an eye, the next generation will be sifting through my belongings looking for a hidden treasure among the seemingly meaningless mess.

“I search in skinny limbs and freckled noses and tangled hair, but my babies are gone. They have been replaced with children who need to reintroduce themselves almost every day, so quickly do they change and grow.” ~ Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky

****

When a soul leaves the earth, it can leave behind such a mess. Relationships and mortgages unfinished. Things, once loved, piled high to be sifted through by people who couldn’t possibly know the memories they hold. 

The first year we lived in our house, I found a box of handmade snowflake ornaments in Mrs. Grimsic’s storage closet. That’s when I first felt as if we were living in her house. Making our family memories in the home she had built for hers.

Our secondhand home.

To honor the life she created for her family in her home, now our home, each December I place one of her handmade snowflake ornaments on the Christmas tree. And every time I do, I remember that this will not always be my home.

One day down the road a stranger will live in the very same space I do today. Although the scenery may change, the spaces will remain — the spot where I spent so many hours rocking my first born, the place where the couch is worn because I land there each evening, the place I close my eyes to soak up the sun on the patio my husband put in shortly after we moved here.

That stranger will likely never know the memories created in this home.

Countless times over the past twelve years we’ve talked about moving to a roomier place. 

But we’re still here.

And it’s still home.

For now.

“Home is a place we measure with our own two feet. And home is the place that measures us. Home is the place that names us and the place we, in turn, name. It feeds us, body and soul, and if we are living well, we feed it too.” ~Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky

 

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Sarah / Posts / Blog
Sarah is a wife and mom who lives imperfectly for Jesus. She’s a communication professional by day, word girl by night, and always an appreciator of art. She's on a mission to know and love God so she can love others like He commands. She calls it scattering gold. Sign up for monthly newsletters at www.scatteringgold.com.
  • Christie Purifoy
    http://www.christiepurifoy.com

    Sarah, this is lovely. Your house may be a few years younger than my own, but I relate to this so well. In fact, I clicked over here after working for a bit on my next Grace Table post. I was writing about how I feel Mrs. Hughes, wife of the farmer who built my house, as I move through my day. But now you’ve captured so much of what I was aiming to say! Thank you. I’ll go revise my post now … 🙂

    June 6th, 2016 10:17
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    • Sarah

      Well, Christie, I had a beautiful book that prompted the post. I am loving your words!

      June 6th, 2016 21:28
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  • Emily Conrad
    Emily Conrad
    http://www.emilyconradauthor.com

    I gasped when I saw these lines: “Earlier this spring, Mrs. Barlow passed away, too. I took my little girl to the estate sale on a mission to buy one of her tea cups.” An elderly neighbor and friend of mine passed away early this year. At the estate sale, I gave her daughter-in-law the spare key my neighbor had entrusted to me and I found a small vase and a teacup to use and enjoy and remember her by. Though I haven’t met people keeping the same property for generations, in our small midwestern city, it’s not unusual for an eighty-year-old to make their way up the driveway and knock on the door and ask to look around the home they used to call their own–it happened at my childhood home and it happened at the house we just moved out of, too. I hope someday it happens at our new house. Learning about the journey a house has been through before I arrived, the memories and the lives lived here before I was even born, deepens my sense of feeling “home.” It’s like I’ve learned the place’s secrets and can cherish it all the more, sort of like that vase and that teacup are special to me because of whose they were in the past, something no one would know if I didn’t tell them. Memories are a special kind of inheritance. How neat that the generations in your neighborhood have been able to pass that down!

    June 6th, 2016 11:38
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    • Sarah

      Memories are indeed a special kind of inheritance! My beautiful grandma would have turned 105 today (she passed just before her 102nd birthday), and more than ever before I want to tell her story to my children.

      xoxo

      June 6th, 2016 21:30
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  • Amy
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    This is both beautiful and sobering, and lands me squarely in the right frame of mind I need for today (and all others to follow). Thank you, Sarah.

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      Thank you, Amy, for reading. I’m praying for you this evening!

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  • Jacque

    This really touched my heart in my current season of life. This fall we will be moving across our rural town from our current home which is 100 years old this year and was my Grandparents, to my husbands childhood home. I am really spending some time saying goodbye to where my heart has been for the last 24 years and falling in love with where we will begin our new memories. Blessed beyond words to be able to live in 2 wonderful well loved family homes in my lifetime. I am also in the “Roots and Sky” book study, what a perfect book for me this summer. Thank you for your beautiful post!

    June 7th, 2016 23:17
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