Home is our memories. Home is a place inside us, and a place we share. Home!
I loved meeting some of the people that lived in our home before we did and before the wonderful Labess family did. Gabriella Wagner Monaghan, and her husband, Ryan, two girls, and her mom, Regina Wagner, stopped by our home today. I could not get enough of their stories about our house when it was their home. I had always wondered about those that lived here before. Our home was built in 1850. They spoke of the times they went out on the roof to the neighbor’s home attached to ours, it is a twin. They spoke about the way the waterfall used to be. Michael would hear the waterfall when we first moved in, and thought I was taking the longest shower ever. The tranquility of sound calmed our baby boys when they slept. It had an indescribable peace when we arrived home from another place.
Regina said our dining room built-in buffet has marks from where candles burned under the top cabinet. A door used to be in the kitchen, in fact, she explained the entire house had many doors. Gabriella said she use to roller-skate in our basement, and Gabriella said it smelled the same!! It was a magical encounter~ I know we will stay in touch.
Their other daughter will visit with her man, and their dad who attended the University of Virginia as did Gabriella, and as do our older two sons, Josh, and Sam. The time they arrived for a visit was when we were all watching the Cavaliers, UVA’s basketball team playing a game. Gabriella and I are now Facebook friends and real-life friends. She grew up with my colleague of fourteen years!! Gabriella shared these beautiful photos of when they lived in our shared home. The family thanked us for our generosity of spirit in showing them the home they loved and grew up in. It was a gift to meet them and hear their stories.
A few weeks later, Regina sent us the original deed for our home with more photos of the yard. It was a treasure. Regina explained she had meant to donate the deed to the historical society. She said she brought her girls Easter ducks and those ducks lived in the stream for a long time.
I remember, over thirty years ago before I was married, when my mom took me to Minneapolis, Minnesota. We took a tour of the home where my mom, JoAnne Liebenberg, Levine grew up. We met the couple, Ted E. Bare and Frank, who live there now, in the southern-facing English Tudor, that my grandpa, Jack Liebenberg designed. The couple graciously led us through to show what they had done. My mom told me how when her sister, my Aunt Doris, was kissing her date goodnight, my mom, the little sister to Aunt Doris, (who gave me a fancy doll dressed in beaded blue velvet) stood on the tiny terrace above the door and poured a giant bucket of water over them.
Aunt Doris had epilepsy like my son, Alex. My grandparents did not understand it, and thought she was misbehaving. We lost her to cancer, way too early. I remember her service, and everyone crying.
They had smelling salts on the tables. I was three. I am fifty-four now. I wish I had known Aunt Doris longer. My mom, JoAnne Liebenberg Levine, Aunt Doris Morton, and Aunt Paula Troup (Aunt Paula helped me get through breast cancer, by helping our family financially when I was sick for an entire year). Aunt Paula has since passed to the other side along with my Uncle Stan. I miss her, and the way we talked about books we were reading, they must have had a spectacularly amazing childhood in this home.
The home had recently been featured in a magazine for the cool way Frank and Ted designed it. Mom told me about the stained-glass window on the door. It was a stained-glass representation of the three beauties, Aunt Doris, Mom, and Aunt Paula. The maroon tones and zebra prints were extraordinary that Ted and Frank added. I most loved the garden that they showed us. Their generosity of spirit has stayed with me all these years later, and forever will.
My grandpa, Jack Liebenberg, designed over two hundred theatres, churches, synagogues, and homes. I remember Grandpa would ask me over the phone, if my hair was still curly. I remember sitting in the retro chairs, we have one of when he would drink his coffee near the floor-to-ceiling windows in the modern home, he designed they lived in after the English Tudor one. He made me newspaper hats and taught me to draw a home with an X without lifting my pen. Their bathroom smelled like his Irish spring soap. Their kitchen cabinets were aqua glass and held healthy food. When I visited, I would go across the street to the sports announcer’s home for the Twins baseball team. They had soda, and things with white sugar. Down the road, the neighbor made me Stauffer’s Saulsberry steak, and I found a cute Weeble man on the ground when playing with their kids. I made it through my time there by eating at the neighbor’s since my grandma Raleigh only had healthy food, no white sugar. She practiced yoga and was able to do the pose where she stood on her head until she was ninety, along with driving her banana yellow Dodge Dart that would be my first car. People would honk at it because they assumed it was driving too slow even when it wasn’t. The Dart was driven across the country for me by a college student at Rowan. I recall still the smell of their garage and the box with a rope that went from the living area to the basement. This dumbwaiter amazed me.
My Grandma’s art studio with a giant stained-glass window, and the hallway drawer devoted to the grandkids. I was allowed to rummage through it felt like I was on a treasure hunt. I recall the way they said sometimes snakes got inside and they would sweep them outside the door. It happened when we were there. There was a huge glass container of candy that never got eaten and was shaped like peas and carrots. My Grandma always made the bed and taught me to do so too. Explaining that if I did not it would be ruined. I look back now, and wonder if it was a reference to my parents and their divorce. I remember a baby bird hitting their floor-to-ceiling window and my mom and I nursed it back to health with a tiny medicine dropper.
Home is where the people you love are.
Home is our memories. Home is a place inside us, and a place we share. Home