Monday, August 1, 2016

Columnist Gets To Go "Home" Again

GOUVEIA: You can go home again

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Posted: Sunday, July 31, 2016 10:14 pm | Updated: 11:05 pm, Sun Jul 31, 2016.

I had a moving and emotional moment last week, one I imagine many people would love to experience as they get older.
I got to go home.

I went to see and walk through the house where I was raised. For a few brief moments I returned to my childhood, to the days my parents loved each other and our family was living the American Dream.
For 17 years I lived in the big white house on the corner of South Washington and Plain Streets in Norton. It is an older home, built some 100 years before I was born. It was a dairy when owned by the Draper family before us. And in the 1960’s, it was a fabulous place for a kid to call home.
I was 19 when my mother sold the house in 1975. I remember my final moments in it, walking around gazing at the empty rooms for what I knew might be the final time. The memories swirled around me as I walked out that door.
But last week my wife noticed there was an open house at the home. She suggested we go and walk through it. For some reason I was hesitant, but she insisted. I will be forever grateful to her for bringing me.
I found myself in my old home for the first time in 41 years.
The kitchen looked very different, and the downstairs bathroom was in the wrong place (well, “wrong” according to my memory). The old pantry was gone, the rooms didn’t connect the same way, there was a fireplace where there had only been a wall in my youth.
But the dining room where we celebrated countless holidays with 30 or more family members still seemed the same. It led to the “living room” where my father’s desk had been, covered with old-fashioned accountant pads and papers.
The stairs I climbed every night with my brother and sister were so very familiar. The bathroom at the top of the stairs still seemed to have the same tile floor and walls I remembered.
I walked into the bedroom I shared with my brother growing up, and was overcome with emotion. The old wooden floors were a different color, but still the same wood. The slanted far wall still bent towards me. I swear I heard the same squeak from the floor boards as I slowly walked in.
I saw the window my brother jumped out that time I was chasing him. I saw the old ceiling access to the attic that I stared at every night, wondering if someone was up there. I walked over and looked for the spot where my best friend Bob McKillop put a hole in the wall that time I pushed him over my bed.
Outside, the nostalgic trip continued. I saw the maple saplings my father planted 55 years ago, supported with twine and stakes to hold them up. Today they boldly reach up to the sky as full trees. I discovered the foundation from the old chicken coop, where I would gather eggs with my parents. I saw the rock we played on as kids, pushing each other off and thinking it was so big — and now seeing how small it was.
I talked with some prospective buyers, relating the history of the house. I touched the doorways, walked the yard, and stood under the huge maple tree that had provided such grand shade for the countless family cookouts held beneath it.
And for a short time — a few minutes — I was 8 years old again. Life was simple. All the neighbors knew each other, and all the kids played together from summer sunrise to sunset. My late parents and sister were together with us again, and my grandmother was calling me for dinner in that sweet, shrill voice.
I was home.
Some people still live in their original home. My home today is the house our own kids grew up in, where my wife and I still live. My sons can visit their childhood home any time they want. I can’t, and that made this so special.
So it was nice to relive some memories, however briefly. Even if the bathroom was in the wrong place.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and 58-year Norton resident. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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