We sat on the couch and basked in the late afternoon sun as it poured through the huge west-facing windows of our new home. After 31 years in our Victorian farmhouse with almost two acres of land, my husband and I found ourselves starting over. The process of downsizing was oftentimes grueling, especially the recurrent realization that we had to touch everything we owned. But the many trips down memory lane were an unexpected gift that made it all worthwhile as we cleaned out accumulated “treasures” that filled our house, attic, basement and three-story barn.

We raised two sons in that old house. They were 2 and 4 years old when we moved there. We had a room upstairs for indoor winter fun, including easel painting and building forts, and a toboggan run and swimming pool in the backyard. The sweetness of these memories sustained us through the move as we cleaned out every single room until the house was bare.

Our new home, although smaller, is open and spacious with cathedral ceilings, skylights, a four-season room, a patio and a small yard. On the second floor we have a loft with a half-wall so that the room overlooks the first floor. We use the loft as our study with floor-to-ceiling bookcases on one entire wall. We were both teachers, and we accumulated a lot of books over the years. Upstairs there is also a large bedroom suite with a bathtub for grandbabies and plenty of space for my sewing machine and craft projects. The basement is clean and new with a concrete floor, rather than the dirt floor we had in that old Victorian, and with plenty of room for my husband’s woodworking shop.

Now we drive by that old farmhouse every day on our way in to town. We have fond memories of happy times there raising our family, just as we hope the new family who lives there will have. And we know that our new home will be filled with the joy and laughter of our sons, their wives and our grandchildren. We will make many more family memories together in this new home, memories that are just as precious as the ones we have from that old Victorian farmhouse. We can almost taste the sweetness of the new life that lies ahead for us as we start over.

Dinah Crader Johnson of Gorham is a retired anthropology professor.


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