On Homes and Stability

This coming Sunday, September 13, is Grandparents Day. I was searching for a topic involving grandparents to write about, and I came across a post I wrote about my maternal grandparents’ house. I said in that post that these grandparents lived in that house from 1937 until 1962—twenty-five years.

KF house cropped

My grandparents’ house in Klamath Falls (it seemed much bigger when I was a child)

I thought their length of residency in that house was the height of stability. My mother lived in that home in Klamath Falls, Oregon, from the time she was four until she married. A few years after she married, she brought her two oldest children back to that house to live one semester while my father was in graduate school. My grandparents didn’t move out of that house until I was in the second grade.

My parents' home in Richland

My parents’ home in Richland

That same year I started second grade year, my parents moved into a house in Richland, Washington, where they lived until 1980—eighteen years. A long time, but several years short of my grandparents’ record. And I thought my parents were pretty grounded, once my father finished his education.

Then it dawned on me that my husband and I have lived in our current home for thirty-one years. Apparently, we are more stable than either my grandparents or my parents.

My husband and I moved into our current home in October 1984, when I was two months pregnant with our daughter and our son was two-and-a-half. Our son has only vague memories of the house where we lived before, and our daughter has never known her parents to live anywhere else. Our son had two different bedrooms in this house, and I evicted our daughter from her bedroom a few years ago to make my home office, but otherwise, little has changed for them when they come home.

By contrast, my children remember my parents living in five different houses during their lifetimes. My husband’s parents have lived in two homes—though I think they hold the record for stability, having moved into a house in 1962 (a banner year for moves in our families) and remaining there until 1998, or thirty-six years. My husband was about thirteen when they moved in, and their youngest grandchild—my daughter—was thirteen when they moved out.

I write all of this because I think our family’s stability is unusual in this era. I read articles talking about the mobility of the American workforce, and yet it doesn’t seem to have affected us. I worked for one company for twenty-seven years—my only place of full-time employment. My husband worked for the same law firm for thirty-five years.

There is a lot of change in life that cannot be controlled, but I am glad that we were able to give our children deep roots. Still, it is odd to think that we are at least as grounded as our parents and grandparents.

And I feel even odder realizing that when I hear the old song this holiday season “To Grandmother’s House We Go,” which implies the homeyness of a family seat, I will think to myself, “That’s my house now.”

Even if I’m not a grandmother.

Does your family have a place you have called home through the generations?

Posted in Family, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , .


  1. “Even if I’m not a grandmother.” Hum…is this a hint, Theresa? 🙂
    My family is scattered all around now. Growing up, the longest we lived in a home was about ten years. My father liked to move before things started to break, I guess.

    • Jill,
      I can’t hint about becoming a grandmother. Off limits. Plus, my kids would disown me.
      I can understand the wanting to move before things start to break–we just replaced our roof.

  2. My family seems to be “long livers” in various homes. I think we top them all with 46 1/2 years for us so far in this place. This place does seem to be THE place for family gatherings.

  3. We are long-timers, too. I lived in only one home growing up, and my parents are still there. My husband’s brother now lives in the house they grew up in, and my kids have only known one home as well. I think that’s why we’ve accumulated so much stuff, and neither kid wants to give up their room for my office!

  4. I think my mom lived in the house I grew up in for a little over 20 years. She lived with my dad, alone with us and with a second husband in that house. Does that qualify as stable? Sadly, I don’t miss that house at all. Mom’s moved quite a bit since then but has lived in FL for the last 21 years (about 5 years ago she moved out of her boyfriend’s condo and bought the one across the street from him. They’ve been together about 28 years). I can’t believe that I will be in my house for 18 years this December.

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