I am going through a stressful period. When I made the decision to sell my house, I hadn’t realized the impact it would have. It’s less stressful than divorce or losing a loved one, but it’s still up there.
My house has three levels: our upper duplex where we live, The Senior Times office on the main floor, and the basement apartment where my friend and caretaker of the property, Cecil, resides.
When I first moved here, I had just divorced and wanted a home for my teenaged daughters and The Senior Times. My dream was to live and work in the same building. I was lucky to find just what I needed on Decarie at NDG Ave in this mixed commercial/residential neighbourhood.
Some neighbours have indeed become friends. There’s Kudo next door, the chiropractor family with their caring and friendly mother, Mary, who lives upstairs.
The ragged wooden cow is still hitched up outside the antique shop down the street, although the shop is mostly closed since the owners died. Joel has proven to be a wonderful neighbour, full of advice and ready for any emergency with hands-on assistance. In the back lane, my friend, Sandra, sold her senior home after she lost her husband, Philip. Now there is a new family living below Sandra, while she remains in the upper duplex. Allan, the neighbourhood caretaker died three years ago at an early age but his brother, Jean, and his mother, whom we call
Madame Houle, continue to maintain a strong presence in our neighbourhood from their vantage point on Northcliffe.
The lane in the back is full of children in the summer, playing just as their grandparents would have played 50 years ago imagining a use for everything they find.
This neighbourhood has become an intrinsic part of our lives although it may not look close-knit as you drive past.
It’s equidistant to Monkland and Sherbrooke; we enjoy both, especially on summer evenings. The area cafés are endless, the Metro across the street is convenient and friendly. We’re a short walk to the Villa Maria metro and the 24 bus.
So why am I selling?
I have all the right motives. The mortgage I sweated over for 20 years is paid off. The maintenance on this 1920s triplex never ends. At our ages, we need an elevator or a main floor living space.
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I want to be free. Yeah—you remember the 60s song. I’m tired of fixing things. Old houses shift, they move, they sing, they moan, they need tender loving care. In 20 years I’ve replaced the roof, the furnace, parts of the plumbing, the occasional brick, the windows, renovated a bathroom, and built a gorgeous deck — but at my age, as many of you understand, I want to be free.
But I miss it already.
I will miss the original woodwork, the French doors, the original wood floors and the 1920 ambiance. I love the old wood, light oak trim upstairs, dark downstairs, the built-in hutches in the dining rooms with their original stained glass doors of flowers. Yes, they’ve tilted somewhat, but they still look beautiful and hold lots of dinnerware and downstairs… well… newspapers.
And then there are the bells! Truth is they were loud when I first moved in. The church across the street seemed to play them tunelessly, any old time. No one over there ever took any bell ringing lessons to be sure.
I hardly notice those bells anymore. And I no longer hear the cars. The walls are thick in this old building and it’s peacefully quiet.
And the memories! The parties we had in our spacious open living room, the Passover feasts that stretched halfway into the living room with added-on tables, Irwin’s 60th birthday party where we hosted 40 (or was it 50?) friends and family to a sit-down homemade sushi dinner; the surprise 50th birthday party for my friend Gisèle before we were even friends. Gisèle came up the stairs thinking she was invited to an intimate dinner and 60 guests, many of whom I didn’t know, were hiding in the woodwork. Now that was a surprise!
There were many family dinners that included my late mother, Eva, Irwin’s mother, Ruth, and the four grandchildren, Ariel and Myriam, Amy and Molly who were 12, 14, 14, and 16 when we met 21 years ago. This house played home to all four children — part time.
Where will we move to, friends ask? I answer uncomfortably, “I don’t know.” We’ll wait till we sell our house and then decide. It’s been fun having The Senior Times below us in a homey and spacious office, and especially fun for Irwin who does all his writing for The Senior Times in his cozy office upstairs.
My broker and friend, Bonnie Sandler, who has a monthly column in our newspaper, is now showing the house to potential buyers. Moving us and The Senior Times is going to be an adventure.