At times, we forget that we Realtors are humans too, with our own connections to our homes. After all, we are in and out of homes all the time. But it’s great when a fellow Realtor assists us to realize a uniquely special moment. This is a true story about how sometimes it’s the simple things that connect us all.
A few weeks ago, listings were popping up for my buyer who was looking in the Southeast Denver area, and nothing exceptional came up until the day my childhood home came on the market. That day it appeared, I emailed my sister in Florida and also told my dad, who is battling Alzheimer’s Disease, about it. I was so excited that our home was on the market and thought it would be great to get my dad in to see it one last time. Even though the current owner had improved it with lot of updates, I could see the bones were the same. Built back in 1963, this home was solid and stood the test of time.
Unfortunately for us, the house wasn’t on the market more than a day before it went Under Contract, so I figured we couldn’t get in to see it and disappointingly, I told both my sister and my dad it wasn’t meant to be.
A couple of weeks went by and then my sister very unexpectedly flew into town to assist a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer. She was only in town for 3 days and her priority was her friend. She did, however, want to see my dad and I and so we made a plan for brunch on Sunday morning. Late that Saturday night, I had a “lightbulb” moment – “Wouldn’t it be great if the 3 of us could somehow go see our old home?,” but I knew the listing agent would have to be accommodating of the plan. Early that Sunday morning I sent an email to the listing agent of the home, explaining our situation and somewhat pleadingly asked her and her seller’s permission. Instead of putting me off, or coming up with some reason it wouldn’t work out, her response was,” Oh Sandy! Yes!! Please go. Lockbox is xxx. And let’s talk at some point!”
I was elated, as I knew it would mean a lot to all of us to see it. The last time we were all there together was when my mom was alive. She died of pancreatic cancer after a 4-year long battle, when I was 36. After brunch, we arrived at the home and it looked so much the same, but with many much taller trees and bushes, and a different side gate. One of the biggest trees in the front yard had been planted by my mom, when my dad had refused to do it, thinking it wasn’t the right kind of tree for that location. It was huge and gorgeous, just as she had envisioned it all those years ago. Many memories started flooding in as soon as we entered, as it was the home we cherished for over 16 years! My dad and mom bought the house for $16,500 and it was now listed for $495,000!
The updates were so nicely done. The seller had done an awesome job with all of them, but as we walked through the house we just kept picturing our family living there and all the little things that made it so special to us, including my closet wall full of pictures of the young heartthrob guys of my teens, like Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson! My sister recalled the moment she received a special doll in her bedroom, an orange-haired Troll, which she still possesses today.
The original basement fireplace was still there. It had been built by my dad, progress being made slowly over the course of several years. He could only work on it on weekends as he was a Banker full time. He had placed every stone, with black mortar in between the stones. I recalled pictures of him covered in black during the installation. The large bar he built, with a shake shingle roof, was gone, replaced by a smaller, more practical and contemporary one.
When we entered the laundry room we were really taken aback. Just inside the door, hanging on the right side, was a placard on the back of a wood paneling piece. Although my dad doesn’t remember doing it, he had written on the back of one of the wood paneling pieces that he installed. It read “This Room Built by Dave G*****- 1st Owner of this house. Started work 1965-still at it July 1969. At the bottom it was signed by him. The realization that it had been there all the time, uncovered by the current owner and saved, hit us all in a very profound place. It was so meaningful to us that he saved this bit of history, after 55 years! We found out later, from the listing agent, that the owner was very proud of that placard and showed most everyone who came to his home. We just loved that he had treasured that and made it such a centerpiece of the home. There were tears of appreciation, lots of them!
Then, wandering around the basement stairs, where my sister and I used to play Barbie dolls, dress up and ride trikes, my sister found her name in pen and just a little below that, I found mine too. Our small mark on the home, along with our most treasured memories, forever penned into the home’s foundation! Long forgotten, but it was so meaningful to us.
After taking many pictures and recalling these memories, sadly it was time to go.
But for the listing agents’ kindness, we would not have that special time of remembrance. Had she not recognized the importance to us, this special time would have been lost forever. As my dad winds down his days in this world, this I’m certain was our last opportunity to do this with him. It’s a gift I cannot repay, but perhaps someday I’ll get the opportunity to help someone else out as she has done for us. Realtors helping Realtors, but more importantly people helping people, such a special treasure!