Around The House: Under One Roof 

A House Turns In To A Home

"Maybe," the Realtor would venture, for perhaps the 50th time, "we ought to revisit that wish list y'all have. ..."

"We'd rather [grunt] looking," I'd hear Stacy reply.

Then the Realtor found it. The first time we saw the house, it was a see-through pile of giant matchsticks. We walked around in it, envisioning our future as an early autumn breeze blew right through the structure.

It was remarkably close to that wish list. Still, we weren't certain — until we walked into the house a week or two later, only to find some guy and his three daughters dancing exuberantly across dusty floors.

"It's perfect, Daddy!" one squealed.

"It sure is," replied the beaming father.

"This is my room!" another sang from the top of the stairs.

"And this one is my room!" came a voice from over the garage.

I nearly broke both ankles running across the hardened, rutted mud of the yard, heading for the car. Stacy reached it first, carrying Daniel like Mike Vick carries a football.

"Tell her we want it!" I stage-whispered.

"Already dialing," Stacy said, fingers flying.

And that's how it began, seven and a half years' worth of memories ago:

Madison's very first homecoming, two days after her birth and seven months into the house. Then her second homecoming, a month later, after spending a week in pediatric intensive care battling a respiratory infection.

Three-year-old Daniel hitting a whiffle ball past my right ear, out of the yard and across the street, then running top speed the wrong way around the bases.

Cooling off on the porch as 4-year-old Madison saunters through the screen door and looks at me. "Why is your shirt off?" she asks. "I'm hot from cutting the grass," I explain. Two. Three. Four. Five. "Then why don't you take your pants off too?" comes the perfectly timed reply.

Videotaping Daniel and Madison asleep in their beds on Christmas Eve, in a 21st-century rerun of the home movies dad took of us 35 years ago.

Slamming screen doors, stomping feet up and down the front porch and a yard full of cousins playing some game involving three balls, plastic swords and a Hula-Hoop.

The many, many broken but redeemed pieces of furniture that Stacy has restored with loving care ... and feeling a lot like one of those saved pieces of furniture most of the time.

Relaxing in the porch swing, sipping a beer and watching the falling summer sun light up mountainous billows of clouds.

And saying to our friend Donna, sitting across from us in an old wooden rocker, "You know those people who go through life whining and complaining and never realizing how good they have it?"

"Yes?" she replies.

"Well, I'm not one of them."

Chuck Hansen is a Richmond-based writer.


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