My heart has been heavy with the reports of the devastation out in the  mid-west, towns leveled from the tornadoes, homes just shredded.  It made me think back to a time when we moved from our home on Long Island up to the Hudson  Valley.  We had a Cape in Valley Stream, purchased at a great price in 1990, just two months after we married.  Before the kids came in ’92, we did a lot: a total interior paint job, installed wood panelling, removed carpets, sanded and stained the wood floors.  When the kids came, we continued with the back deck, aluminum siding, a new roof, even digging out the lawn which was full of roots so a full head of grass would grow; and we fenced in the back yard.  I can’t think of one thing we left untouched. 

Ten years later, for a variety of reasons, we moved to Orange County. The house got a total cleaning, the “for sale” sign was dug into our lawn, people came and went, and by May of 2001, we signed the papers.  The day the moving truck came started out like any other morning.  We busied ourselves packing up the van, keeping our two young girls out of harm’s way, and eventually, by late afternoon the trucks were ready, and our car was packed.  It was literally the time to say “goodbye” to the house.  I walked into each room, and placed my hand on the wall, my way of saying goodbye.  Memories of my girls at babies flowed through my mind, changing their diapers in the nursery, seeing the walls I painted, seeing the door to the basement where my daughter had her first big sleepover, the backyard where the swings swung most afternoons; I began a grieving process that continued for at least a year.  My friends and family reminded me that the house was just a bunch of sticks and nails, and that helped put things in perspective.

My husband I moved to a home that needed few improvements, and the years began to pass: we enjoyed parties, sleepovers, communions and graduations.  We’ve marked ten years in the house this year, and after seeing the reports out west, I’m thinking that perhaps my friends were right, a house is just that: sticks, nails, and the roof, and it’s the family and the things we did together that will remain wherever we go.