Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This Old House

This is the house where I grew up with Mike and Tai, a small two bedroom, one bath house in La Canada Flintridge, CA., near Los Angeles. My parents bought it new in 1947 and when they died, Mike bought it and made it his own -- with paving and patios and bay windows, with modern kitchen and bath.

The gardens are a mixture of distant past and newer plantings...from Mike and later, from his long-time tenant Mary Beth. Aunt Molly planted the huge tangerine tree outside the back door more than 60 years ago. It is still bearing wonderful fruit.

 The camellia bushes along the garage are more than sixty years old, too. We marveled at their blossoms as children -- and we still do. So nice to see, in a rapidly changing world and through our aging eyes, that some things seem to go on nearly forever.


The view of the house from the street is different, a bit eccentric, but cozy on the other side. You can see the mountains, but no one from the street can see in as you sit on the porch in the old rocking chair, enjoying the quiet and the cool of the evening.

It looks like such a peaceful place -- and it is. Only the childhood memories aren't peaceful. The moments of anguish and hopelessness and terror that happened within live only in our memories now along with all the love and laughter and dreams for the future that we shared within these walls. To Mike, Tai and me, it's our childhood home that can inspire whisps of ghostly memories that both chill and warm our hearts.

To anyone else, it's a charming little house that Mike has made even more delightful with his improvements, like built in bookcases and special reading lights, a stone fireplace so cozy on winter nights.

It's so much a matter of perception. Once, attending a Christmas party given by Mary Beth, who rented the house happily for ten years, moving out only when she got married, I overhead one of her friends remark "Oh, Mary Beth! This is such a cute, charming house."

I shot Mary Beth a look and she smiled and rolled her eyes. She knew the story of our family in that house.

But now the house had a different story happening within. Mary Beth had brought her own special warmth to a house that needed a loving touch to make it a home. Now Mary Beth has married and moved on, leaving happy memories and her own warm decorating touches behind.

But very soon, Mary Kate and Matt will make it a home again, to make their own vegetable garden, to pot some bright flowers, to sit on the porch in the front or the back enjoying the views, playing their guitars and filling the place with song and with love once again.



  1. Yes, houses, like books, may keep truth between its covers.

  2. A house like this is ripe with memories, both the good and the bad. It's good that your brother made the improvements and that good things have happened in it since. Another lovely retrospective~

  3. What a true reflection. I understand how memories can be different from the current view. I have a few of those myself. But it does look very lovely.

  4. What a great story about your family home, Kathy... So nice that it has stayed in the family and that it has had so many people living in it who love it and care for it.

    My childhood home was sold --and they renovated it so much that it doesn't look like the same house. I miss the way it looked to me as a child... Oh Well--at least someone loves it and has made it theirs.

    Merry Christmas.

  5. Yes, this house is so very charming. I really like it. It is heartbreaking to think that you have such sad, unhappy memories of this place, but it also seems to hold some dear memories. I hope the new tenants will love and care for it and make it a happy home.

  6. It is a charming house -- Memories do all sorts of odd things to us, don't they? I hope you can remember the best and let the worst find a spot to hang out where they aren't right in the front of your mind. That said, easier said than done. But to the new owners, it will be home. And that's lovely.

  7. It is a lovely place and I hate that it still holds such sad memories for you three.
    Your such a warm giving friend to everyone that deserves only good so let those good memories flow.
    Wishing you the best of everything this new year. Happy New Year