When I think back on my childhood, I remember two homes. The first one was a block from the lake where I learned to swim and spent a lot of time as a kid. We had a nice little over-grown beach area where we could take our picnic lunches and wade in among the rocks in between the docks owned by the people who actually had lake front property. The house was two stories and my parents remodeled the entire thing down to the dirt underneath and bare studs that we had to balance on and walk over to get from one room to another. I remember it seemed to take a long time to finish, but when it was done it was beautiful! I loved how fresh and clean and new everything was. I had a fire engine bunk bed that for some crazy reason I decided I wanted painted orange. So, orange it was. Bright fire engine ORANGE! When my little brother came along, he got the fire engine and I had a blue room with Michael Jackson posters covering every square inch of the walls and a drafting table that my dad made for me. It was the best room in the house! Happy childhood memories.
The second home was one my grandfather had built after my grandparents and their 8 children immigrated to America. (I believe the last two kids were born here in the U.S.) It has 3-foot thick cement walls and a bomb shelter behind the home – reminiscent of WWII bombings. Having just come over from Germany after the war, it’s not surprising he wanted to be prepared for anything! It had a big tree house that the previous owners had built, 6 acres of land with a stream running by, and lots and lots of wonderful tall trees. I always wanted my own horse! His name was Shiloh.
Of course at the time, growing up, I never really appreciated having a family home. Particularly one built by my own grandparents. However, my Dad still lives there and to this day I consider it home when I go to visit. My room and my brother’s have been turned into the guest rooms, but they are always available if we need them and there is plenty of room for the grand kids!
This is all to say that I have always wanted to provide such a place, a “family home” for my own kids. They grew up with two struggling parents trying to make ends meet, moving from rental home to rental home…We started off in a tiny one bedroom apartment and when we were expecting our second child we had to move into a 2-bedroom. Then, another child propelled us to move again and get a bunk bed, until finally we found a good deal on a rental with enough space for everyone to have their own rooms but the 5 of us still had to share one bathroom. Then the divorce happened and I moved out with the kids in tow to another rental house…the one that was broken into, the one I had an abusive boyfriend live in for a little while and had to call for a police escort to get him out, the one my Mom passed away in while in hospice in my small living room. That house doesn’t conjure up the happiest of memories. We moved again. This time into a 2-bedroom/1-bath apartment; small, but safe.
My kids are older now; one attending college in another state, one in high school, and the youngest in elementary school. The younger ones still have a few years under my roof and they are products of the American reality – divorce! We, as their parents, were never able to provide a family home. Always living paycheck – to –paycheck.
My beloved mother, who passed away last year (R.I.P.), always wished she could help me. She wanted to provide the resources to pay for a home for me and the kids. We talked about how ideal it would be to get a house with a mother-in-law apartment where she could live and be close to me and her grand kids. However, she always struggled herself to make ends meet. She worked hard, but had no health insurance, no assets to speak of except her car and personal belongings, and eventually when her mom (my Grandma) got older they moved into a house together to take care of one another. Grandma passed away the year before Mom did and then we had to sell the house.
Long story short, my Mom in heaven is finally going to help make my dream a reality. The sacrifice was that her precious life ended far too soon, but the outcome is that me and her grand kids that she loved and adored so much, are buying our first home and moving in on Thanksgiving Day…
…Our family home.
We have so much to be thankful for!