Saying Goodbye to My Childhood Home

House This is the house my parents built in Hofit, Israel, in 1970.

I call it my childhood home because I spent more of my childhood there than in any of the other places we lived – Silver Spring, MD, New Providence, NJ, and Los Angeles, CA, are the main ones I can remember. I lived in this house for a total of nine years, I believe. The last of those years was 1980.

So the majority of my life has been spent calling other places home. In fact, the house that I now own, which has been my children’s home since birth, has been home to me for more than twice as long as the house in the picture.

It’s probably not surprising, then, that my first feeling when my father told me he had sold it was of relief. I had been very much dreading dealing with the detritus of all the years he and my mother had lived there, and now over a decade of his living there without her.

Yet still, as I look at the pictures I asked him to take, I do feel a twist of nostalgia. It is a rather beautiful house, designed by my uncle, the architect Isaac Reisler. It has not stood the test of time very well, and it will almost certainly be knocked down by the new owner. That’s a shame, but it would probably be prohibitive to restore it to its original state. None of us three kids could possibly take it over. In fact, in our latest visit to Israel, we couldn’t stay there because my daughter is profoundly allergic to dogs, and there have been dogs in this house since 1970.

I remember my formative years in this house, creating endless stories with little wooden figures on the tiled floor of my room. I have watched my daughter do the same – it’s in our genes. So many tales of adventure and romance.

I remember the dogs, the years of teen-aged angst when my dog was my favourite person. I remember the village school, the regional high school, my classmates and friends, my cousins who lived nearby. My children do not have any cousins living in the same country, let alone the same village. It’s a different experience.

So many mixed feelings as my father moves on to his new adventure, leasing a small house in a retirement community with his current partner. It is definitely time for him to do this. I am very grateful that he has taken the burden of dealing with his house off our hands. But the passage of time is really coming home to me now.

1980 doesn’t seem that long ago, somehow.

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