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moved into the new 2200-square-foot house in the early 1970s, and how I thought that we were living like the rich and famous. I remembered making friends with an army of neighborhood kids and walking to a nearby park to play tennis or softball. I saw Mom in the yard tending her plants and flowers, as chickens and ducks roamed the expanse of the large lot. The vacant parcel behind us was full of blackberries that we picked and converted to cobblers — mmmm, delicious!

I flashed back to turning cartwheels and walkovers in the stiff Centipede grass, learning to skate on the driveway, twirling my baton in a shady patch of the front yard and standing in the front yard at dusk when the mosquito truck drove by, showering me and friends with a fog of something that was probably cancerous. And in my mind’s eye, I saw the night my father died — how my husband and I had visited, and how he lay on the sofa in the family room, so weak and so frail, my mother sitting at his feet, and how seeing him that evening shook me to my core.

And as the good and the bad memories flooded in, I realized that they are all in the past. The house is empty now, after years of love, laughter and tears. It’s just a house now — a house that served us well.

But back then, it was a home — imbued with warmth, love, and a sense of belonging that only family can provide. It is the interactions, shared experiences, and emotional connections among family members that transform bricks and mortar into a sanctuary of comfort and happiness.

“I was doing okay until [the realtor] put the lock box on the front door,” my sister told me the day after we left. “That’s when it really got to me.”

I had my moments, too, but looking back at my father’s game room was probably the hardest for me.

I hope the next owners love and appreciate our house — our home — as much as we did for five decades. I hope they paint the walls and make some much needed improvements. I hope they fill the yard again with flowers, vegetable gardens and toys. Most of all, I hope they make their own memories there and miss it as much as we will when the time comes for them to close the door and move on.

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