It is late on a Sunday night and I am getting ready to go to sleep. My daughter, Caite, is still at work, so we are “leaving the light on” so that she can find her way into the house.
Our house is the only home she has ever really known. My wife Susan and I built it before she was born. It has been the kind of home that was always “open.” Everyone is welcome. It has been a place where our family has witnessed and been an active part of life’s challenges, of life’s successes, and of life’s celebrations. We are about 300 feet from Greenwich Bay, which opens into Narragansett Bay and, ultimately, the Atlantic Ocean. It is in a place where the water and the land meet and embrace. It is a fitting place for our home.
It has been a permanent place for our family. It has been the primary location of most family celebrations: holidays, birthdays, and (on occasions) tragedies. It is unique, as it is designed to look old and blend into a neighborhood where most houses were built between 1870 and 1910. It also has seven star bursts. There are seven wood fans that represent the rising and setting sun. Every morning and every evening – seven days a week, every month, year after year – no matter where we are, it is our home.
We have stayed a long time in our family home. For Susan, it is partly because she is a first generation American. This house represents the deep routes of a person transplanted to the soil of this great country. For me, it is about counter balance to my childhood: almost every two years we moved…usually quite far.
I was born in San Francisco in the Haight and my parents’ first house – mine too – was near the beach by Golden Gate Park. A short time later, we were off on a new adventure. Next stop Santa Clara, California; Portland, Oregon; Placentia, California; Government Camp, Oregon; Vancouver, Washington; Kansas City, Missouri; East Greenwich Rhode Island and then Warwick, Rhode Island. At 18, I left for college in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ironically, I can remember each of the houses in which we lived with surprising clarity. It is where my parents, brother and sisters engaged life.
What is also true is that my grandparents’ houses, in the Bay area, were the constant homes I knew as child. Every summer we would return “home.” My mother’s parents lived at 167 King Street in Redwood City, California. It was a great home full of great music and great mentoring. I met my first REALTOR® there. He was my grandfather, John J. Brophy. My father’s parents lived at 1735 Parrot Drive, San Mateo, California. It, too, was a special place of great memories and great food. These were the homes of life’s photographs and memories.
Life’s lesson was clear for me: Home maybe where the heart is; but it is great to always have a place called “home.” — Ron Phipps, 2010 NAR First Vice President