Last Thursday night, before Jack was preparing to return to the University of Alabama, he invited his friends over for what may be the last time in our home.
When your house becomes a home
A big house is built to hold a family. To nurture that family, keep them safe and sound, and provide the shape for a home to be created. Since 2006, this house has been a home to my children and a tight circle of friends for Jack and Amelia. Amelia is building her home in Rochester, and Jack will finish up at Alabama next year. He may be in New York State; he may be in Germany. It is time for Chip and me to return to the couple we once were and say goodbye to this house and the last chapter in this book.
I sat in the family room and listened to outright joy and laughter. The music and the smell of chicken wings and pizza were so reassuring and familiar, yet sad. I texted Jack and asked him to share my thoughts with his friends. I was feeling so much emotion. I could not tell them myself. At 12:28 am, Jack asked us to come down to the basement and say goodbye.
We gathered around the counter in the basement kitchen. (Of course, I have a full kitchen in the basement, I am Italian.) Effortlessly the conversation turned to stories of fun times, chicken wings that were tossed, Friendsgiving dinner, the mule train, and we just laughed. We talked about Thomas and his favorite butter snap pretzels, Justin’s nutty-buddy ice cream cones Mer’s Dr. Pepper, and enough candy and snacks to feed an army, well, Jack’s friends anyway.
Seems like all at once, they were adults
I looked at their faces, now young adults in their 20’s, and remembered when they were 10, 12, and 14 years old. I was reminded of the smell of Axe, the first time there were cars in the driveway when they turned 16, and the sound of my garage door opening and closing all evening long.
We reminisced about the earlier days of sleepovers, pizza parties, German exchange students, and God-awful music playing into the wee hours and how my mother got such a kick out of the kids. The ‘Chippendales” working out in the driveway during the pandemic this summer, always 6 feet apart and causing that poor girl to run into the mailbox stretching to look at these eight shirtless guys.
They continued with more stories, and all the things that I probably shouldn’t have ever found out about, I learned that night. All the memories that meant so much to them were simply overwhelming. As we left them to go upstairs, I hugged Caroline and Justin, and they hugged me so tight, I could not hold it together anymore. Climbing the stairs, I heard them tell Chip that I was like a mother to them, and they felt right here. That is more than I could ever ask for and is truly priceless. I would not trade any of these thoughts and memories for a single thing.
A letter of thanks to Jack’s friends
To Caroline, Chris, Thomas, Jack E., Jack L., Justin, Morgan, Liam, Kenan, Max & Mia, ‘Mer,’ Ben, The Niskayuna Rowing Men’s Eight, ‘Colorado’ and ‘Vermont’ and the German’s too, (my apologies if I missed anyone):
As I said that night, I have been so very blessed to have you in my home all these years. I have loved making every cookie I baked and paying the Union Pizza delivery guy on Friday nights. You have made this house come alive and gave us such pleasure, happiness, angst, and stress all at the same time! I worry about each of you as if you were my own. You will always be welcome in our home, wherever that may be.
A happy mom.
The best thing that can happen to you as a parent is when your children tell you they were happy. Jack said he and his friends wanted to write a letter to the family who moves in to tell them what a great time they had in this house.
Time to go is drawing near and just about coming to a close. It is hard to let go. I walk around this empty house without Izzy and the kids, and it is whispering to me that it needs a new family to love and welcome home. That thought soothes my soul.