When we lost my Dad in 2015, we also lost his house. It was the house my parents bought together as they started their new life, the house I came home to as a newborn. He lived there for 40 years – almost to the day. They moved in on May 1 and he died on May 2.
It was a house we always had access to. We played in the garage, and in the attic until Dad turned that into his office – never changing the pink paint my mother had put on the floor. We had parties there, in the basement.
My favourite thing about the house, though, was the front porch.
The house my Mom moved us to after they separated also had a front porch. Most of the houses in the neighbourhood did, to the point that the annual community garage sale was called a porch sale. But at that house we spend the most time on the back deck and in the backyard. At Dad’s, though, the porch was a place to sit and chat, a place to eat dinner when it was nice out. A place to watch the neighbours go by.
It was where we sat when I told my Dad I was getting married and asked him about chipping in for the wedding – something I didn’t expect him to do, but which he generously did. He also insisted on picking and paying for the wine, which was fine because I would have failed miserably.
It was the place where I sat and talked to him about where my career was going to go next and he encouraged me to go for my Masters.
That last Halloween we had stationed ourselves at his house – My Dad, my Mom, Dad’s partner, my sister, me and my kid. Dad loved Halloween. He gave out good candy and kept statistics about the number of visitors. My husband was away that year so I asked Dad if we could use his house as our base for trick-or-treating, and my sister joined us as we walked the same streets we would have walked on our own hunt for candy decades before.
From that Halloween I have a blurry picture of my kid and my father. She helped him give out candy. I think she liked that part better than the actual trick-or-treating. The two of them, on the porch. I am so thankful for that Halloween, that I have that memory of my family together, my daughter dancing in her costume.
It was a strange house. The layout confused me – the living room rectangular and long, one of the bedrooms upstairs was tiny, the kitchen was too, though Dad had renovated. There was cold storage in the basement and out back a deck my grandfather had built on. It was a house full of memories. It was the last place I had in the neighbourhood I grew up in, and it was very hard to say goodbye.
Today I was walking around our neighbourhood with the dog, looking at some of the beautiful houses around us. I noticed none of them have real porches on the front. I guess that’s a thing for houses built a long time ago. But sitting on the veranda, having a drink and reading a book is a great way to meet your neighbours. A great place to find your Dad when you drop by.