b'final mattersSaying Goodbye to our House, with LoveThank you for these 21 years which ultimately came in the form of a volunteer job at Maplewood Rescue, BY TAMI STECKLER which in turn led him down his pro-fessional path. Avery started to crawl, met the Jefferson kids who would be-come his closest friends, and quickly became a part of the fabric of your town.Dear House, Ofcourse,wefilledyourroomsfrom a snow day football game in the withbirthdayparties,holidaydin-ners,victorycelebrations,raucouspark and the constant hum of a house I remember the first time I saw you. To be honest, I didnt love you then. Igame nights, preschool to high schoolthat strained at its seams to contain all thought your rooms were laid out strangely, and your kitchen was small. Butgraduations, many meals with familythepeople,meals,milestones,movie something drew us back to you, not one more time, but twice. And then itand friends, and unconditional love.nights,sleepovers,Christmasmorn-was love. We moved in over the course of a month, and on August 6th, 2000,Your side door was always unlocked,ings,Passoverseders,disagreements, we slept in your bedrooms for the first time. your front door was always open, andandRummikubtournamentsyou From the start, you welcomed all comers, old friends and new, with yourno one knocked. hosted. And, of course, the farewells, openspace,andopendoors.TheWe painted your walls, made theas each person who passed through the first thing we bought, which nowlivingroomthediningroom,anddoors for a minute or a lifetime moved makes so much sense, was a din- then moved it back, played musicalon,leavingmeandChrissittingto-ing room table. Not just any tablechairs with your bedrooms as the kidsgether on a couch in your now empty but one that could expand to fit 14grew and flew, and lived fully in everyrooms, feeling nostalgic but satisfied, people comfortably, and 16 a littlesingle room (except that one in theknowing that you were and have al-lessso.Somehow,weknewthatback which we could never quite fig- ways been our very best decision.you would attract crowds, and weure out). We tried to grow grass, putSo,thankyou,house,forgiving wanted to be ready. in a garden, played out in the street,usthisspacethiswonderful,per-Averywasjust6monthsold,and grilled on your deck. fect spaceto raise our family and so Colton turned 9days after we moved inand Michael was 21, grown butYouwereahavenforthosethatmany others, and for never once com-not flown. Chris was 34, and I turned 41, also just a few days after we droveweretemporarilylostorthosethatplainingaswepushedyoutoyour the packed Hyundai, teeming with suitcases, boxes, two cats and a dog, intoneeded some loving care for a while.physical limit, kept you up for many your driveway.From the friends of our children, tolate nights, and treated you as a com-From that day forward, we knew you were a keeper, somewhere we wouldextendedfamily,tofosterchildren,pleteafterthought,aswelivedand plant roots and grow for a whileand from the start we housed some extrasyou hugged them tight, and made ev- lovedeachdaywithinyoursturdy (Mikes friend, and my mother, who lived with us for the first five years). Everyeryone feel warm and accepted, and ofwalls. Thank you, for embracing us time we thought there was not enough room, your walls found a way to expandcourse, well-fed.for the past 21 years, so that we could to accommodate as many people as we welcomed through your doors. Andwhileyouembrace others. We will miss you.As we acclimated to you and Maple- witnessedsomeLove,wood,wemetourneighbors,exploredterribletimes, all the places to go, picked our favoriteI think most ofTamispots, and played endlessly in Orchardthe time you re-Park. Colton was thrilled to be able toverberated with explore the town on his own and walkthesoundsofTami Steckler is a "chronic intervenor" the few blocks to school in September.laughter,lively(accordingtoherchildren)wholoves Your stoop became his non-stop base- conversation,thevoicesofchildren,chaos, crowds and kids, and is ever so ball backstop. Michael found a job indogs baying, all kinds of music, danc- slowly adjusting to her new normal in town and searched for his true calling,inginthekitchen,teensroaringinMaplewood.34/ matters magazine / summer 2021'