I never knew how much of an impact a simple “house” could have on me until I had to say goodbye to my childhood home.
This past week I said a final fare-thee-well to the big green house at the end of the street.
There’s something to be said for the way home can make you feel. This was a place I felt instantly safe, secure and a deep sense of belonging; it had love built into the walls and exuding from the windows.
From the very first moment I was cuddled home in the arms of Mama G as a new-born babe to the last goodbye, hugging Mama and Papa while holding back the tears as I walked out of the front door for the very last time, this house had truly been “home”.
Doing the final walk through pulled at the ol’ heart strings. Standing in the middle of each room for just a moment, taking in a deep breath of old familiars and reminiscing on the moments born in each crevasse of that house. It has always been there and the thought that it no longer will be is a tough one to wrap my head around.
The rooms are now empty, each corner once had life and purpose but now all that remains are the memories of what was. The skeleton still stands, alas, she will soon be demolished and the ground will be paved… They will literally pave paradise, and put up a parking lot.
As I said goodbye to my physical home, I realized that I may be letting go of a prominent save haven in my life, but hell, I still have the most important part of that home: The family that grew to be The Gavin’s in that home.
I was raised by two phenomenal parents and three shit disturbing siblings… we got up to all sorts of nonsense in that house and I when I look back on the memories, I realize just how lucky I am to have had those experiences. When I start feeling nostalgic and upset, I remind myself that change is the only constant in life. There is nothing I can do but live and feel each delicious moment (even the sad ones) and embrace the changes life brings.
Letting go is never easy, but never forget what made it so hard to let go – that’s where the magic of nostalgia lives.
Mom would throw us the most AMAZING Birthday parties at that house. She and dad would set up a long tarp and a hose on the hill across the street. It was the ULTIMATE slip and slide.
As we got older, the parties didn’t stop! We’d celebrate Halloween, Staff, Soccer, Christmas, New Years, Birthdays, Brides, Babies… Any time there was call for celebration, our house was the host!
It was a place where all were welcome and was a safe haven and home to so many more than just our six over the years.
The Hot Tub
The space of solidarity
The day we had a crane lift our hot tub up, over our house is a day I’ll never forget. The entire neighbourhood came down to watch. The hot tub was a place to warm up before bed, it was our own little karaoke bar (our family’s best hit? ‘I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas’).
It was a safe space. A place without phones, tv’s or computers where we’d talk and laugh, breakdown, break through and listen.
Grandma Rita was famous for visiting from Powell River with a big bag of crazy swimsuits from the Thrift Store she volunteered at.
We’d have “Ugly Bathing Suit Contests”. At one of our crazy house parties, all of the guys put on ugly women’s bathing suits. The cops ended up coming to our door (noise complaint) and Stephen and Reece answered the door in the lady suits!
Let’s just say the cops were “less than impressed”.
Dad was famous all throughout North Vancouver for his Christmas display.
Every year, we’d spend hours assisting him with the lights. Man, we’d be up on the roof well past dark, using strings of lights as our light, replacing bulbs, stapling each light into the exact right position, re-wiring strings…
There’d be minor electrocutions, complaints, tears and fights, but it was all worth it. When the last light was screwed in and the project was compete, the whole family would run out to the grassy hill to get that first look at the house.
People from all over North Van would do slow drive-by’s and we had the odd knock on the door to thank us for the hard work. Our house lit up the dark cul-de-sac and was visible from the bridge above our street. It’s going to be so empty this year driving by and not seeing that Christmas glow.