My mom sold her house. It comes as no surprise that the buyer is an architect. Our house was built by a team of architects in the mid-1960s, and was considered to be radically modern at the time. Built partly on stilts, it overlooks a steep and wild ravine and Puget Sound. It has five decks, a partially open plan and a spiral staircase made of huge planks of burnt wood. It originally had a fireplace platform made out of these same planks of burnt wood, but unfortunately that got removed at some point. Many of the inside walls are made of stained wood. It is a really, really cool house. Apparently, many potential buyers were worried about it from a safety point of view for small children. My mother raised six kids in this house, and not one of her nine grandchildren nor her great-grandson has ever been injured, fallen down the stairs or fallen off one of the decks. Once I fell down the stairs. I was carrying a basket of laundry and could not see my feet. I was fine.
Now my mom lives with her husband Ron in a condo that overlooks the Ballard locks from the Magnolia side. It has a swimming pool. We tried to get her to sell her house for years and move into a condo, but she resisted. She liked her neighbors, she said. But now it is done. I'm happy for my mom. I'm happy that she has a full and happy life with many friends and lots of interests. She is part of a theater group and has been in the same book club for a million years. She plays tennis and swims. She misses her house and her neighbors, but not enough to remain stuck in the past. I'm happy for our old house in Fentonwood too. It found the right buyer. He and his wife sent my mom two dozen orchids when the deal closed and invited her to come and visit once they are settled in. They said they really liked the neighbors too.
My older brother Charlie wrote a note and hid it in the house. I know where it is hidden and my lips are sealed. But some day, someone may find this note and the two photos he included with it. Here's what the note says:
Hello. We are the Ganongs. This was our home from 1965 until 2009. Jim, our dad, worked at Westside Ford, and later had a jewelry shop in the West Seattle Junction. He liked to read books, and even wrote one.Here's Charlie, with his grandson William
Sally, our mom, made 12,960 school lunches for us over the years—without once using a Zip-lock baggie. We didn’t care. Each one was made with love. She was also a librarian, counselor, yoga teacher and a hundred other things mothers do. She married Ron in 2009 and motored happily off into the Lake Cavanaugh sunset—driving the boat, even.
That’s me as a senior in high school in the flattering overalls. What was I thinking! I guess I didn’t have time to change for the photo. I’m amazed we all managed to stand still long enough for it to be taken. Wonders never cease!
Next to me are my twin sisters, Peggy and Cathy. Cathy has her arm around Carl. “Baby Tow,” we called him—until he got big enough to sock people. That’s Janie on the right—the “middle child.” Or was that “meddle child?” Just kidding. And baby Carolyn, what a joy! How cute the way she cut her own bangs—already training for her future profession.
Well, that’s us. Or, that was us. Nothing and nobody stay the same: we’ve grown up, moved out and moved on, and must finally let go of this place we once called home. We hope you like it here, and create as many fond memories as we have taken with us.
Oh, and if you ever put up a basketball hoop over the carport: be prepared to spend a lot of time on the roof.