Friday, April 27, 2012

A Legacy of Blessing

“That’s my home!”

The realtor pulled up in front of a house with a for sale sign. We almost missed it. I had asked her to take me back to the hotel after a frustrating and demoralizing afternoon. I was still jet lagged after having arrived back in the United States the day before, and I was getting a headache. But as she passed a cross street in the older neighborhood we were touring, I saw the for sale sign down the block and suggested she circle around for a look.

Until that moment, I was questioning my decision to move to Portland, Oregon. I had been living and working overseas for seven years. My adventure had taken me to three countries on three continents, but it was time to come back and I was eager to settle down. Only a few days earlier, the representative from the moving company had stood in my apartment in Paris, asking where to send my things.

I didn’t know. Memphis, where I grew up, no longer felt like home. I didn’t know where home was anymore. I felt lost. In what can only be called a leap of faith, I named the city that had been on my mind for months, although I had never seen it..

“Send my things to Portland.”

“To what address?”

“I don’t have one, but I will by the time my things get there.”

But when I arrived in Portland, nothing felt right. The first houses the realtor showed me might as well have been on another planet. I questioned my sanity.

And then, there it was. A small tudor style home with leaded glass windows, nestled in between two bigger homes on a quiet block with trees overhanging the street, and rusted iron rings still embedded in the curbs to tie up your horses.

As soon as I saw it, I knew it was home. I could see myself walking up the front walk at the end of the day, happy to be home. I could see my son, who had just turned four, riding his bike and playing with the kids I saw.

No one was living there, so we were able to go right in. As we stepped inside, I felt the loving warmth that breathed from the floors and walls. The house was in an estate sale and was still furnished with sweet, old fashioned taste and happy family pictures.

I found out that the house had had only one owner. Built in 1937, it was the first home of a young couple who moved in and raised their son. The wife, widowed and her son long grown and gone, continued to live there until she died. Nothing in the house was updated. It was an electrical and plumbing museum. Clothesline was strung up in the basement for drying. There was no dishwasher or garbage disposal. It didn’t matter. I was in love.

I bought the house that night.

Over twenty years later, it is still my home. My five children have grown up in it. I almost put it on the market when the third child came along, but I knew someday the kids would leave and this is where I wanted to be. So the kids shared rooms, and we all made do.

Someday, I know my time in this house will come to an end. I hope when that time comes, someone will pull up in front of the house and recognize it as home. They will walk in the door and feel the love that has permeated the plaster and seeped into the hardwood floors for decades, perhaps even a century by then. I hope I have honored the legacy of the woman who left her blessing in the home for me, as I will leave mine for those who come after.

53 comments:

  1. Hi Galen,
    I love stories like this! It's wonderful when something feels so right and you just know it, isn't it?
    There were still iron rings in the curbs? Wow!
    You also raise an interesting point that came up over coffee today for me. Do you notice how your starter home is the perfect retirement home but you are rarely still in that home from one stage, through the we-need-more-space phase to the retirement one. Seems as if you managed that! How cool is that!
    Lori

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    1. Lori, I can't really say this was a starter home, since I had owned several home before this one, and then, as I said, moved around a lot overseas. But this was definitely the home I wanted to stay in for the duration. When I moved into it, it was just me and my son. Then I adopted a little girl. When Dan joined our family, we were out of rooms, so I did think about moving, but decided not to. He and James shared a room. Then another girl came along and she and Mia shared a room. One kid had moved out by the time my last daughter joined the family, so I only had 4 kids at once living here. Still, it was very crowded, and it felt like we were on top of each other half the time. Now I have two daughters and a grandchild living here. That seems doable, but I'll be glad one day to have an empty nest and see what that's like! Thanks for commenting.

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  2. What a beautiful post! I love this. I once felt this way when I drove up the driveway to a farmhouse in which I lived for a decade and raised my younger son. I felt like I had come home immediately. I had even dreamed about it before I ever saw it.

    I have no doubt when you choose to move on that someone will recognize the love and respect shown this house and make it their home. What a lovely idea.

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    1. Teresa, I hope so. I never met the woman who lived here, but I felt like I knew her. She must have been a truly lovely person. It was like the house embraced me when I walked in. That was surely the energy she left here. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. We moved into our current home right after my son turned 15. A couple of years later, he told me that the place had just never really felt like home to him (which might be very telling, when you consider the direction his life has taken...). I realized then that, in a way, I agreed with him.

    Our first house, which was supposed to be just a "starter home" for a couple of years, ended up being our home for over 12 years, and even though we thought we couldn't wait to move out of it and into something bigger and nicer, I've come to realize that it's not square footage and amenities that make a house a home.

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    1. Chrissy, I know what you mean. There is a feel to a place that doesn't have anything to do with all the rational aspects. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Hi Galen,
    I so resonate with this post. We discovered our magical place, the land where we wanted to build our home, a year before it even came on the market. We owned other land at the time and it took us a year before we finally admitted to ourselves that the other land wasn't right. We put it on the market on a Sunday and the next day the place we wanted came up for sale. We had no idea that was going to happen. Our money was all tied up in the first place but we took a leap of faith and immediately made an offer. It was accepted. Our first place sold within 6 days.

    My motto: When it's right, everything falls into place.

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    1. Susan, Wow, that is a great story. It's like that, though, just like you say. In fact, when I saw my house that day, there was another offer on it. I immediately made an offer that I hoped was higher and it was. That falling into place phenomenon is amazing. Thanks for your comment.

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    2. PS to Susan, I can't link back to your blog from here--I just go to your profile with no blog link. If you have a blog, please give me the link and I would be glad to visit!

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  5. What a marvelous story, Galen. It never ceases to amaze me that when we take that leap of faith, God catches us in a better place than ever we could imagine. You have expressed that concept so beautifully here.
    And, just imagine - only two owners since 1937? Unheard of in this day and age. :)
    Blessings!

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    1. Martha, It was indeed a leap of faith. Two really. The first one was deciding to come to Portland, and the second was buying the fifth house I saw within 24 hours after getting off the plane! Thanks for your comment.

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  6. I love it how you just know... when you know. Your home sounds marvellous Galen :-)

    Home for me has always been a bitter sweet concept but as I have grown older and lived and loved a number of places I've since called home... I've come to realise that the concept of home is inside us. Home is "who" we are... not necessarily "where" we are LOL Three years ago I let go of my home of 20 years. I thought I would be there forever... but I was wrong. Life intended something different. Now as I sit poised to launch off overseas letting go of the safety net of "home"I know that I will find many places in my travels that I will call home [even if only for just a short while] but those places will hopefully become me. In any case... I shall endeavour to make them so. I'll let you know how that goes... [grin] Another thought provoking post... thanks Galen :-)

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    1. Jean, I can hear the bitter sweetness of your words. I have never lived anywhere as long as I've lived here. And while I think that this home is forever, I know things can change, sometimes in the blink of an eye. I had a house in Memphis that I actually bought twice, and swore I'd never sell it again. And yet, here I am across the country...

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  7. I am sure the love will flow into whomever walks in your door. I am new here from Barbara's blog. Now folloewing from both my blogs. Loved your guest post and wonder if you'd like to do one for my blog, also.
    Hugs, GraceinAZ

    Growing Old With Grace http://growing-old-with-grace.blogspot.com/

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    1. Grace, What a sweet offer! Why don't you email me and we can discuss it? Thanks!

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  8. It does sound like the perfect place. I believe that one day there will be another person to claim it as home, as well, sometimes you can just walk into a place and without any real reason perhaps, you just feel like you're at home! What a lovely story Galen.

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    1. Karen, It still amazes me that it happened like that. I had even rented an apartment, thinking it would take me months to find what I was looking for! Thanks for commenting.

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  9. Oh, what a great story! I can just see what it must have felt like the first time you walked in the door. Isn't it neat when we can feel the energy that the prior inhabitant left behind? Who knows, maybe she saw you there and smiled :)

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    1. Julie, I hope she is still watching over us after all these years and smiling still. Thanks for commenting.

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  10. A very touching story, Galen. Sounds so perfect. Sounds so home. What a beautiful legacy of love to leave for the next person who will call it home someday. May you continue to leave there many, many more happy years, Galen.

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    1. Inspiring, Thank you. I, too, hope I'll be here many more happy years.

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  11. wow, Galen... how very very lucky? blessed you are. good on you

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    1. Carolyn, I am blessed indeed. Thanks for commenting.

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  12. I love the way you live life, Galen Pearl on your own terms.
    I believe that dwelling spaces absorb the vibes from us and continue to radiate them. I can imagine that the positive vibes of the previous family were passed on to you as a blessing and you in turn have blessed that home with your presence and that of your family. The next owner (and may there not be one for many, many years) will be twice blessed.

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    1. Corinne, I agree. You could just feel it when you first walked in. I could tell that the person who lived here was so warm and loving. I later heard from neighbors that she was a truly lovely woman. Thanks for your kind words.

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  13. Enjoyed your post and sometimes we know a new is just right when pulling up the driveway. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  14. I knew my house was my house the moment I stepped inside. <3

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    1. So you know what I mean. Thanks for your comment.

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  15. Galen,

    Serendipity - not sure but I had just had a conversation with my 27 year old son that lives in Dallas and since I've moved around so much in the last 3 years he asked me where am I going to move next - I'm not sure I replied - he stated, "Mom you've been on the east coast too long - why don't you move to Portland"? So maybe a sign that I read your blog immediately after talking to Kevin?

    I love this story for this is how I live Galen - I listen to my heart and my heart tells me where I am to be next.

    Beautiful way to live and how amazing that you found this house in the last moments of a long day....

    Thanks for sharing this story of FAITH!

    In gratitude,
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, That's how I came to Portland. Even though I was overseas before I moved here, it seemed like I couldn't turn around without someone saying something great about Portland! So maybe the cosmos is calling you here! Come visit and I'll show you around. Thanks for commenting.

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  16. Galen,
    What a beautiful story. When it's time for you to go some lovely family will move in and enjoy living there. I am in the midst of trying to get my elderly mother to sell the home she has lived in for 47 years.....it's not easy for her to give up her memories.

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    1. Angela, I understand. I can't imagine leaving here, but then I had a house when I was younger that I felt the same way about. In fact, I bought it twice! But then one day it was time to let it go. Maybe that will happen, here, too. Thanks for your comment.

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  17. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in the same house for so long. We moved so many time when I was young and I still seem to move around a lot. But I do believe there is a little beach lot or a beach house somewhere with my imprint all over it.

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    1. Nicole, I lived in one house from the time I was 5 till I was 17. Other than that, I'd never lived anywhere longer than 3 years before I moved here. I guess I was ready to put down some roots. A beach house sounds nice! Thanks for your comment.

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  18. wow, I absolutely ADORED this post! Especially the end about someone else pulling up and recognize it as home. BEAUTIFUL!!! I think a few homes have picked me. And I've felt a connection with most I've had. In our last home before this one, it was an old house built in the 1920's. We had an old fireplace in there and it had a flip door chute on the floor where they would sweep the ashes down to a place in the basement wall (a bit creepy, lol). One day I shined a flashlight down there and saw a figure - a toy. So for hours I tried manuevering it up and through the flip door. I finally did it. It was an old old old St. Bernard kids toy dog. Funny - we had just bought a St. Bernard puppy shortly before that. VERY odd!

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    1. sheila, That is a great story! Wow, what are the chances of that?! I have one of those trap doors in my fireplace here, too. I never thought to look down it. Maybe I will! I'll let you know if I find anything. Thanks for commenting.

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  19. I loved reading this post. It was sweet and heartfelt. I do feel like homes take on a spirit of their own. I have had a number of homes and have my favorites. My very favorite home was in a small community in northern Utah. It was a 50 year old remodeled farm home. I felt I was at home the moment I opened the door. Thanks, for a few memories today.

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    1. LeAnn, Glad this brought up some good memories for you! Thanks for your comment.

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  20. What a wonderful experience! I felt like this about a city we moved into, and was heart-broken when we had to move out, because at the time I was too young to have a say in it. But when I was older, and started my career, I chose to go back and enjoyed many wonderful years there with my Mom. Now, of course, we don't live there any more. And my Mom has passed on, too. But the memories sometimes, are enough to feel completely happy. I am so glad you recognized "your home". May it be many, many, many years before another loving person chooses to occupy it. So cozy to read this post, Galen! Hugs!

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    1. Vidya, I had to sell a house once that I loved so much. But I knew I would never live in that city again. I hope I will be here for many more years, too. Thanks for your comment, and hugs back to you.

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  21. Galen this is a wonderful story, what is meant to be will be is how I feel. What type of work did you do overseas?

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    1. darlin, I mostly did international business law, helping clients who were coming into the country structure their transactions. It was very interesting. I was the only American in my office in Bangkok, so I got to really be immersed in their culture on many levels, personally and professionally. Thanks for your comment.

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  22. They say home is where the heart is. It's true. So it has to *feel* right.

    Some places really feel like home.

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    1. JD, So true, and other places that look like they should feel like home, don't. Go figure. Thanks for commenting.

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  23. Beautiful. Makes me want to wait to find the perfect apartment to call home for a while rather than rushing just to get the process over. Thank you for reminding me that our thoughts, emotions, and experiences permeate a home with love and, hopefully, happy memories. :)

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    1. Therese, I hope you find just the right place that nourishes your spirit every time you walk in the door. Thanks for commenting.

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  24. I totally believe place have a spirit. Sounds like you found a match!

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  25. Lovely blog you have here. Glad I found it.
    +followed

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    1. Elliot, Welcome and thanks for following!

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  26. I know that feeling Galen, of when you will know when it is the right house at the right time.

    I never visualized my wedding, because I thought I would never get married and was not planning on it. I picked a big career and was totally excited about that. But I always visualized my house....and here I am in a 100 year old 650 sq. foot cabin, transformed by my partner into one of the most stunning energy efficient houses in our city ( Now 2800 square feet)
    I just feel like I am home. I love Portland and have a daughter teaching there...who truly wants a home and a child in her life. She spends time looking at houses on the market when she is not running or dog sitting for friends. Her park ranger friend is buying a house and they hope to be roommates.

    Now we need to downsize and although my guy has 7 years to retiring (he's 65) we have so many of my youngest medical/education bills to pay off, which we took out a second mortgage on this house to pay for. This house has blessed us 10 fold...now we are hoping it will give us some retirement funds... There is so much more to a house
    Lovely post Thank you

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  27. I used your ideas, and was very successful, thanks.

    Freshwater Pearls

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