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Saying goodbye to my old home - Jason A. Smith

I’ve known for a while that this time in my life was coming.

But, now that it’s here, I’m not sure how to react.

In the last few weeks, my family has been gathering at my old house, which has been empty for years, and retrieving the last remnants inside it. No one lives there now, and I’m pretty sure no one wants to buy it.

The house is in horrible shape, and we are unable to fix it up because of the cost involved. As a result, there has been serious discussion, recently, about having the house torn down.

I know it’s the right thing to do, so that someone can make use of the lot which is there. The truth is, our old house was falling apart long before the last of us moved out, several years ago.

It’s just strange to think about the house which framed my childhood not being there anymore.

I was 8 months old when we moved into that house in Rockdale County — the same age my little girl is now. For so many years, that house was all I knew.

Now, however, there is a distinct possibility that, instead of taking my daughter to see the old house when she gets older, to show her where Daddy grew up, I’ll most likely have to resort to showing her pictures, and telling her stories about the place.

Even as I write this, I am flooded with memories of the house, and what it represented for me and my family.

There were numerous Christmas Eves when my family — complete with an inordinate number of pets — would gather around the tree and take pictures together. Those nights were followed by Christmas mornings, when my brother would run up the nine-step staircase to my room, alerting me to the presents which were in the living room.

I remember waiting at the end of the driveway for a school bus to pick me and my siblings up, and seeing my mother waving to us as we left. Of course, one of my favorite sights in that old house was the kitchen table, where my family talked, laughed, sometimes fought, and ate every night.

We always enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with my mom’s side of the family, at the old house. My best friend and I spent countless nights on the porch, watching random cars go by at 3 a.m., and wondering who could be awake at that hour, aside from us.

Those days are long gone, and God has taken our lives in the directions He planned for us, before we were even born. Those directions don’t include that old house, I know. It’s still difficult to accept right now.

When I was at the house a couple of weeks ago, every piece of furniture was gone. With the exception of a few stray items in my father’s workshop in the back yard, everything which identified that territory as ours, was history. In a matter of weeks or months, as I understand it, plans could be under way to demolish the house.

Thankfully, there is something no wrecking ball or bulldozer can destroy: the memories my family and friends made at our former home.

I will always keep with me, the sight of three Christmas stockings hanging in front of the fireplace — one for me, one for my brother, and another for my sister. We still have old video footage from when my dad bought our first video camera, and tested it out in our old family room.

As for that old kitchen table, it was the one item I was sentimental about taking with me when I got married. It’s very comforting, particularly now, to know that my little girl is able to eat from the same table, at the house my wife and I own.

I still haven’t completely come to grips with the fact that my old house could very well be gone soon. I’m working on it. It might take a while.

But, I suppose what I should try to do, in the meantime, is to make sure my little girl has sweet memories of her parents’ home, just as I have of mine.

Jason A. Smith covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.