I was recently told that my mother’s house in Westport had a demolition sign on it. Even though we sold it three years ago, it will always be “my mother’s house.” Well, that is until it’s torn down.
It wasn’t my favorite house. I actually always thought that it should be torn down. It was a combination of stages in my mother’s life. It started as a little tiny beach house with no heat and it sat on wine barrels. It gradually grew to have an architecturally designed front section with two floors that looked a little like a church.
When I went off to college it grew a backside with two floors, four bedrooms and three additional bathrooms. It never really matched the front, or anything else for that matter, but it added square footage and allowed my mother to rent it out regularly as we all moved out and she had to spend most of her time caring for my grandmother in Norwalk. The house worked for her and it gave her children what she wanted all along—a place to call home, an education in a town with a reputation for excellence, and a “castle” by the water.
I’ll never forget asking my mother if we had room for a pool. Many of my friends had pools and I thought it was something we should try and have as well. She said, “Why would you want a pool when we have the beach?” I was much older when I finally got how blessed we were to live where we did.
When I moved back to Westport—a grown up having been married, raised children, divorced, and re-inventing myself—my mother let me live at the house, as a paid renter of course, but the house was there for me. It was my transitional home for six years. It wasn’t perfect, but it was my home, a place to provide my youngest with an education in a town known for excellence. It was our “castle” by the water.
Now it will be torn down. And while I know it’s the right thing to do to get the “highest and best use of the land” for the new owner, it still made me more emotional than I ever imagined.
This was my home, where I grew up and where I sought refuge. It provided me, my siblings, many cousins and lots of renters over the years, a lot of fun memories along with the challenges that an imperfect house can provide. It will only be in my memory now and that is a little sad for me.
I know that I am not alone. Many of my friends that I grew up with have experienced the same thing. Their childhood homes no longer there when they come back for a visit. Much of the landscape of my childhood is gone. Allen’s Clam House, where I use to work in the kitchen, has been gone for a long time. Ten Pond Edge Rd, where I lived with my “other” family when my mom rented out the house for the Summer, has been torn down as well.
I could go on, but what I really want to say is that after tearing up a little and feeling woeful for a time, I realize that it is ok. I am who I am from my experiences and life lessons in this town and in this home, and I will always have that.
Thanks Mom for what you did for us and allowing us to grow up in a castle by the water.