Something's been niggling at me for the past few days.
That feeling of forgetting something important.
A birthday? An anniversary?
I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but day after day, there it was, a persistent mental tickle that just wouldn't quit.
Until day before yesterday, when my fourth-born was looking through a stack of old photos and turned one around to show me. "Mom, look."
In a heartbeat, I remembered what I'd forgotten.
July 18. It's the anniversary of the day we closed on our house.
July 18, 1986, to be exact.
Which means we've lived here at Casa Streicher for thirty-four happy years.
My father-in law took this photo when he and my mother-in-law drove out from Ohio to see this new place we'd made for ourselves in the west. Though he loved the American West and had championed a lifetime of family vacations criss-crossing the states beyond the Mississippi, my father-in-law chose to live his life close to his roots in the heartland, I think he found great fulfillment in knowing that his son had decided to settle in the Seattle area. His unspoken dreams of moving to the west came true through us, and that has always made me happy.
Of course, the trees have grown in three decades.
The landscape has evolved considerably.
But surprisingly, comfortingly, our house looks exactly the same.
Even though so much life has happened inside.
* * * * *
Our four daughters were born and raised here, as two decades of wild childhood unfolded under this roof.
From handmade "It's A Girl" banners painted in pink on old school computer paper with the little holes on each side of the connected pages and hung in the front window,
to endless weekly deliveries from the big white Baby Diaper Service truck and daily Cheerios and apple juice tea parties on the front lawn,
to dozens of Girl Scouts descending for weekly meetings and the breathless excitement of Halloween trick-or treating,
to teenage friends hanging out till all hours of the night, and prom photos.
to packing up the car and heading off to college,
our grown-up girls eventually moved out into the world.
And I do mean the whole world - besides semesters abroad during college, our daughters have lived in Arizona, Nova Scotia, Vietnam, South Korea, and now Ohio. The younger pair are living with us at the moment, and while I know they will soon be off again on new adventures, I treasure their company for now.
Three Irish Setters have lived here with us. The first one arrived a month after we did, and the others came in their turn. Five cats - four of them black cats, all strays - have joined our family as well and often grace the ridge line of our roof during their daily meanderings. All these sweet souls have done much to make our house a happy home, and I can't imagine our lives without them.
* * * * *
As for my husband and me, well, the years may have changed us a bit.
See? Here we are, captured at my husband's family dinner table just a few months before our big cross-country move, all those years ago.
If you drive by our house on any given weekend, spring, summer or fall, you'll probably catch us out in the front yard with our green bin and pruning shears, shovels and wheelbarrow (which also dates to 1986, by the way), forever working in our gardens.
And though you may notice some outward changes in our appearances, on the inside, in our hearts and minds, we are still young and full of promise, eager to see what the next thirty-four years of life may bring to us.
Just like our home sweet home.