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Looking back, via Google Streetview

They cut down the trees.

Replaced the front and side hedges.

Enclosed the backyard.

Painted the house a color that isn’t white — and the house really should be white.

But nothing that matters quite as much as the fact that they cut down the trees.

Oh, The Legal Genealogist will concede that the trees probably had to come down.

They were out of control by the year my family sold that house, in 1973.

When my father took a job in Texas, moved my mother and my youngest siblings halfway across the country, and shattered what little was left of the glue holding my parents’ marriage together.

The glue, I’m convinced, was that house.

The house they had bought and moved into after coming back from Europe in late 1954, with two little girls in tow and another baby on the way.

The house they brought not just that baby — their first son together — home to from the hospital. And not just him, but four more babies, from the same hospital, delivered by the same doctor, over the years that followed.

The house where heights were measured at the start of every school year, on the first day of school, and recorded on the basement door.

The house where birthdays and Christmases and milestones were celebrated.

The house where so many memories — of things good and things bad, things wondrous and things terrifying — were made.

The house where those trees were planted, one on each side of the walkway leading from the front porch.

You can see them here, in these last pictures I took before my parents moved away from this house. Great overgrown evergreens in desperate need of a trimming.

My mother planted those trees back when our family was young. There are different stories today as to just what they were planted for: maybe one for the boys and one for the girls. Maybe one for each of her two babies at the time. Maybe one for her hopes for the future, and one to root us in the past.

She delighted in those trees and in the way they grew. Strong, independent, a bit wild and unruly. Pretty much like the children she raised in that house.

There’s no question that the people who took them down needed to do so. Their roots were already threatening to break through the walkway when we left that house. Even in 1973, you couldn’t see the front entry or porch through their branches.

It was, I’m sure, a necessary step by the people who decided that the time had come.

But there isn’t anything that says “this isn’t home anymore” quite as much as the fact that they cut down those trees.

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