We carried out the last few items, filled the dumpster outside for the umpteenth time, and loaded the U-Haul to the brim. It was finally time to drive away from 64 Hillside Ave; our home for the last 30 years.
Suddenly I felt the urge to offer Hakarat Hatov to a house that’s been exceptionally good to my family.
We spent 30 years in this house, beginning when I was a young mom of 3, and then 6 years later welcoming our 4th son. We’ve celebrated 4 bar mitzvahs, 3 marriages, 1 child’s divorce and remarriage, 5 grandchildren, the loss of my children’s grandparents, and sitting shiva surrounded by community. We celebrated every life cycle event from the bris of our son to the pidyon ha ben of our grandson, engagement parties to Sheva Brachot, milestone anniversary parties with and for friends, and wonderful family gatherings on all of the chagim.
Remarkably, our home never lost electrical power during the many blackouts that our neighbors in newer and more contemporary homes endured over the years, which we attributed to being on the same grid as the Englewood Hospital. During Hurricane Sandy this wonderful 100-year-old Victorian house sheltered 22 people; our nuclear family of children and grandchildren plus dear friends who needed a warm place to wait out the storm.
Every room holds countless memories that I’m aware of and probably many more that my kids fortunately spared me from knowing about. I know its walls and light switches, faucets and staircases as well I know my own body.
Friendships changed over the years, with some old friendships disappearing, and wonderful new friendships forming – all within the walls of this old house.
Our home grew as our family grew and the rooms changed their purpose to fit our ever-changing needs. My husband’s office downstairs became a game room (pool table, ping pong table) when the kids were teens, and his office moved into the new addition upstairs. The game room later became the music studio when our youngest son, a musician, needed one. The basement became my therapy office when I retired and began my private practice after the kids had grown and moved out.
Throughout the years the most constant memory is the hours spent helping each son with homework, (at a different spot for each child) which finally led to high school and college graduations, law school, graduate school, jobs and independence. Four young boys grew up in this house, and four men have emerged. I feel so blessed and I want to say ‘Thank you’ to this grand old house for sheltering us through all of life’s storms – figuratively and literally. And ‘Thank you’ to everyone in the Englewood community, our “village,” who helped us raise our family.
While moving in the time of coronavirus has posed numerous challenges that we never anticipated, at least there were no tearful goodbyes, as we have not seen our neighbors and friends, nor been to shul, for the past seven weeks.
During these last few months of packing and purging, I quietly worried about how I would feel as we got closer to the moving date. It was hard to imagine leaving a home and community after three decades. Yet, surprisingly, as the paintings started coming off the walls, and the books were boxed off the shelves, and my mother’s Wedgwood collection was packed up, the house stopped feeling like our home. Without our family photographs, art objects, enormous book collection, accumulated keepsakes and travel souvenirs, this emptied house no longer looked or felt like our home, and leaving it was not as painful as I had feared.
Packed up were the paintings of Tzfat purchased during the Ahavat Torah Family Mission to Israel in the summer of 2001, and the paintings we’d bought from an Israeli artist visiting Englewood in the 1990’s, along with many other pieces of art and artifacts we had collected during the past 3 decades…but they will soon be hanging in our new home.
Now it is time for another family to make wonderful memories in this awesome old house.