by David Oliphant
I’ll begin today at the end of the story: sadly, last week we had to make the decision to let go of Blake, one of our dogs. He was a rescue from Muttville Senior Dog rescue; we adopted him when he was 11 years young and he made it to the ripe age of 18. Still not an easy decision, but indeed he lived a good, long, happy and (mostly) healthy life. I’ll miss him for a very long time.
After Blake’s passing, many friends sent gifts, flowers and cards. One friend gave us a stone with Blake’s name engraved on it. A wonderful gesture and reminder that Blake will always be in our hearts, and maybe even in our home. I placed the stone on the landing of our stairs. When Blake was alive, the last thing I did every night was to carry him up the stairs to bed, and the first thing I did in the morning was to carry him back down. A chore I soon came to cherish as I enjoyed being able to do it for my little guy. Today it’s one of the times I miss him the most, when I walk up and down the stairs empty handed.
That got me thinking of what might be important when searching for a home, what we think are “must haves” and what might be a “deal killer.” When we first looked at our current home, the deal killers for me were the stairs and the fact that there was really no yard. I thought, there’s no way Blake can deal with all these stairs and no yard meant at least 3 walks a day so he can “do his business.” How inconvenient, I thought. I hear clients say similar things everyday: Too many steps, too small of a yard, 1 too few bathrooms, the kids don’t like their rooms or “not enough room on the counters for my cakes”! (Okay, that last line is true, but we heard it while watching HGTV one Saturday morning). Yes, that one gave us a chuckle. Room for cakes. For that person, a real concern for sure, but is it a “deciding” factor when looking to purchase a home?
I look back at the homes I have owned and started wondering why one house might have a lot of emotional attachment for me and another home – nothing, nada, zippo. Why have I not thought about one of those homes one time after selling it? Certainly, it was not the house itself, right? Moving around the country in my earlier career I was fortunate to have owned homes that were all of wonderful quality, style, location, etc. I’ve come to realize it’s not the house at all but the life experiences and milestones that were happening in my life while living in a particular house. Looking back, it’s probably true for many of us: marriage, the birth of children, the passing of spouse, a career shift, or other life altering events, even a pandemic. All of these life experiences shift our thoughts and feelings and either attach, make us feel neutral about or even detach us emotionally from a home. Memories can be a powerful thing and often turn out to be very different than what we had once imagined for ourselves.
I suppose my point of rambling on and on about this is that maybe “deal killers” or “must haves” are true for us, but might I suggest, only at that very moment? Maybe the wisest thing we can do is to look beyond the now and know that everything is going to change over time. Life changes, it evolves, it revolves, it dissolves and it resolves itself all over again. If the house “feels” right, it just might be the one for you, even if it does not tick all of your “current” boxes. Some of the other stuff is just that, it’s stuff.
I’m really glad we did not pass on this house, I love it. I love that it’s been a comfortable home to shelter in place. (When purchasing this home I never imagined that might be our reality). I love our home because of its wonderful location, kind neighbors and open views. I love it because life has been generous and kind to us and I love the fact that I got to honor Blake by carrying him up and down the stairs and walking him 3 times a day. In hindsight, maybe some of the best quality time I could have spent with him in his final months. We almost passed on this house, I’m so thankful we didn’t. I guess my “deal killers” really were opposite of what I thought, they actually have formed some of my favorite memories of being in our home. I do miss Blake, but I’m very thankful for his life and our memories, so far, in this house.