CommunityThe Homegoing Dance

March 24, 20214

Our Chevrolet Nova with vinyl seats and no air conditioning mercifully deposited us at our new home in August of 1977. My dad, mom, two older brothers, and I survived the drive from Albany, NY to a suburb of Detroit. Our sanity wasn’t as fortunate. Undaunted, we ran to the front door, thew it open, and saw…bright orange and green floral carpet. In the entry. In the hall. IN THE KITCHEN!

This house was all 1970s. Olive green light fixtures. Harvest gold kitchen appliances. Wallpaper was everywhere, including some of the ceilings. My bedroom’s wallpaper featured red, white, and blue antique cars, because Motor City. Considering the five of us we were coming from a house with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, having my own room and a choice of other bathrooms when my dumb brother was taking forever made this Pulte home the lap of luxury.

Eventually, the orange and green floral carpet became white and beige linoleum. Harvest gold appliances turned something called biscuit. Old wallpaper came down, and a lot of new wallpaper went up, but not in my room. My dad painstakingly painted an orange and yellow “supergraphic,” which took up one wall, and he free-handed orange top stripe around the rest of the room. Coolest. Room. Ever.

One thing that stayed is that sweet blue tub and tile that you see in the photo above. I scrubbing bubbled the heck out of that thing through the years. It’s where I took a shower before school in fifth grade, and every grade thereafter.

Through the move, a divorce, retirement, and his declining health, my fiercely independent father stayed in that house for 44 years. “Dad, you can’t keep going up and down those stairs to your bedroom anymore. It’s way too dangerous for you to live here.” I’m sure some of you have had that same conversation with a parent or two. Hopefully you had better luck than my brothers and I did, although odds are that you didn’t.

My dad’s failing heart beat for the last time in February, fortunately with all three of his sons by his side. We all went back to Detroit ten days ago to clear out the home that had anchored us since 1977 and get it ready to sell. A hoarder Dad was most definitely not, and that was the final gift of so many that he bestowed on his family in his almost 86 years.

I spend a lot of time analyzing real estate market statistics, and that knowledge is vital. But it’s equally important to balance those numbers – the investment part of real estate – with the emotions of what a home means to all of us. I just got an intense reminder of that fact, whether I needed it or not.


  • Chris Johnston

    March 25, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    Your father was such a kind man, with always a knowing smile. I love hearing about the paint job he did for you. Not a surprise. The greatest memories are homemade.


    • Dave

      March 25, 2021 at 6:11 pm

      Chris, you were one of the first people I thought of. I remember your smile when you talked with my dad. You got him. And I appreciate that so much.


  • Leslie

    March 27, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Dave, I love this piece. It’s really hitting home ( no pun intended), as we are moving mom to a new space within Pam’s home. Those stairs frighten me. And there is something so intimate about the yellow tiled bathroom upstairs, that was my responsibility to scrub. I’m sure the new owner will replace the gold flecked white linoleum vanity in there.
    I offer condolences for your dad’s passing. It’s a different world here without our patriarchs in it, right? Thank you for sharing your memories of him, I’m blessed by that.
    Love to you & Mindy & Jack,


    • Dave

      March 27, 2021 at 5:33 pm

      Thank you, Leslie. Those are some sweet and kind words.

      I’ve listed and sold some homes of people who moved into various types of senior living apartments. When I talk to their kids, there’s a common thread. The parents all agree to move, then go back on it at least a couple of times before finally committing.


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