A House is not a Home
I watched through the window as the inspector scribbled furiously on his legal pad. A loose piece of flashing here, some cracked plaster there. I sat in the family room soaking in the scene, realizing that this gentleman had been hired to simply find every flaw in the house. As he wandered from room to room turning on stove burners and firing up the heat system, he made note of even the most minute detail. It occurred to me that although he and I shared a similar viewpoint, our interpretation was entirely different.
For example, as he turned the burners up on high (setting off the smoke alarm) the only picture in my mind was one of Mom baking one of her fabulous pies or casseroles. He saw a small crack in the plaster in the room; I saw Mom sitting at the piano playing hymns or classical music. He saw a non-working gas fireplace, and I saw the beautifully decorated Christmas mantel that rivaled anything out of Better Homes and Gardens. He saw flaws where I saw beauty.
I had been warned by a friend not to follow him around the house engaging in banter or pointing things out. And so it was that I refrained from telling him stories of family game nights around the dining room table or carol sings around the piano. It took restraint for me not to point out that the basement could sleep an entire family during the holidays and the picture window was large enough to display the world’s most beautiful Christmas tree. It took self-control not to emphasize how much fun our children had climbing in and out of the various connected closets throughout the house.
But even with all of the memories that came flooding back as this complete stranger made notes all through the house, another thought occurred to me. For all of its history and the emotional ties to our family, this house no longer felt like home. It was simply a house. Walls full of memories, but walls nonetheless. Carpets well-worn with visitors were now just rugs in need of replacement. Empty cabinets no longer held meaningful treasures. And the empty garage was now cold and dark. What had made this house a home was no longer a part of it.
The gentleman finished his inspection and traveled on his way. I closed and locked the doors, setting the security system on my way out. With one more glance back, the bittersweet feeling was beginning to fade. As I pulled my car into a parking space where my Mom now lives, another realization struck me. It was then that all of the sadness began to fade away and I was able to begin to smile again. For as my sweet Momma answered the door and I melted into her hug I was enveloped by that old familiar feeling. Home.