This year, my parents decided, with great pain and sadness, to sell their house. This house has been with our family for 43 years. My grandparents raised my dad and his brothers in this home and later, my sisters and I grew up here. It seems impossible to put a price on a home so full of memories and love.

As a kid, the property seemed like a wonderland to me. There were ziplines, rope swings, monkey bars and a trampoline. After school, I would gather my spy kit and explore the creek behind the house. The stickers hugging my socks when I returned home exposed my whereabouts. When it hailed, I would bounce on the trampoline and watch the hail plummet over the edge. In the spring, purple wildflowers dotted the fields out front. My grandma said that her husband in heaven sent them just for her. 

As the years went on, my parents cultivated the rich soil. Their garden and orchard provided an array of fruits and vegetables. We had chickens too, though we received more squawks from them than we did eggs, and my mom was often chasing an escapee. When storms rolled through, huge branches sometimes fell off the eucalyptus trees. The leaves from the branches would mix in with fresh mulch and the earthy fragrance permeated the rainy air. On Sunday mornings, I would sit on the front porch swing with my coffee and watch hot air balloons fly overhead. In the autumn, the mulberry’s golden leaves tickled the ground, and, in the winter, my parents would host a Christmas party. The dog hair that sprinkled the floor would be swept away and my dad would spend all day in the kitchen making his famous eggnog for friends and family to giggle over. 

Our home on Cantelow Road feels alive because of all these happy memories, but also because it holds the memory of those who have passed. As much as I would like to say the house was only ever full of life and joy, it also tells the story of death and pain. When my dad’s brother was only 14, he lost his life in a tragic accident and in 1993, my grandfather was hit by a car while getting the mail on Father’s Day. I never met either of them, but based on stories told about them, I wish I had. It is impossible to paint the full picture of the house without also including these somber details. And while my sisters and I never had to experience anything so traumatic while living there, we still had our fair share of heartache. Naturally there was teenage rebellion, an occasional screaming match, and many tearful goodbyes as we all headed off to the real world after high school.

So many milestones were reached in this place. Just within the last three years, I celebrated graduating from college, got married and had my baby shower in that backyard. It’s amazing that I was married under the same trees that I celebrated my first birthday. Little did I know that my wedding would be one of the last times I saw the property. Having all my friends and family together to celebrate my union with my new husband was the perfect farewell to the Richardson family home, but of course, the sadness of losing the house remains.

Often, I have trouble explaining my feelings in a way that makes sense. So it is with my childhood home. I wish I could perfectly convey the intricate details of my youth that capture the essence of the house. I wish I could colorize the twirls in the kitchen. I wish I could explain how sounds like chippers and chainsaws and gun shots actually became familiar, comforting sounds. I wish I could reveal the sisterhood that was forged in that house through playful wrestling and secrets. 

All these moments, smells and sounds exist in that place, they are anchored to the home in Vacaville, and they will forever be etched into my mind and graved on my heart. While my parents can move furniture and picture books and their pets, they cannot move these memories from the house on Cantelow to the Montana house. It is hard for my parents to see the Montana house as a home. This new house has not seen laughter or hardship. It does not hold a place in our hearts yet, but the memories we will soon create will make it a proper home. What’s saddest to me though is that my daughter will never know my childhood home. She will never step foot on that fertile earth and all I can do is try to explain with measly words the emotions that bubble over when I think of the Vacaville home. River’s childhood will look different from mine and her experiences will be unique to her landscape. While she may never pick oranges off a tree like I did, she’ll pick huckleberries instead. She may never watch hot air balloons pass overhead, but she’ll see bears roam through the woods. While she may never spend weekends romping on the ocean’s shore, she will discover her own passions in Montana’s rugged landscape. We will create new, beautiful memories that will give a heartbeat to her childhood. For I know that it is the people we love that help us forge memories, not a house.

2 responses to “Saying Goodbye to My Childhood Home”

  1. Brenda Avatar

    Wow Sum! That was beautiful! You did the family proud with this beautifully written homage, and I love that you were able to express your love for this family home so vividly! No doubt that it is a nice piece of property, but it was your family that made it beautiful! While I will definitely miss you all, I’ll also miss those pomegranates! Lol! 🤪😘❤️ Love you!


  2. Bernie McAuley Avatar

    Thank you for putting this out there. I agree with your opinion and I hope more people would come to agree with this as well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: