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The Shabby House

It used to be a rather shabby house with an overgrown yard, paint peeling and various spiders as tenants. But several months ago, after almost a year of being for sale, someone purchased that shabby little house and began to transform it.

Each day I would walk to the post and pass the house and each day I would notice a slight change in it. One day curtains were up, the next day a new door was put in, the next day new lights went up. After a month of changes, that shabby little house was becoming rather charming.

So I left a note.

I wrote on a small piece of paper, ‘I love watching you transform this house into a home. You’re doing a beautiful job,’ and slipped it unnoticed into their mailbox.

Over the next couple of months, more and more changes were made. Lately, they’ve been putting in a yard; yesterday the grass went in, and today it was roses.

Of course, I had to stop and smell them.

When I did so, a woman probably several years older than I popped out from a bush and said hullo. Startled, I said a hullo back and asked her about the garden she was putting in. We shared tips and ideas and then I told her I had been watching her transform the house.

That’s when she asked me if I was the person who had left the note months ago. I told her I was.

Her eyes started to well up and she hugged me.

“You must understand something,” she began. “I have never had a house. I grew up in one project after another. I was shuffled between family and friends, lived out of a suitcase. I remember my grandmother once telling me that success is having a home. I’ve been trying my whole life to find a way to get one. For 8 years, I have worked two, sometimes three jobs to save money for a house and then I found this one. I thought I could bring it back to life, we could transform together. After living in it for awhile, I wondered if it was a home. I didn’t know because I hadn’t had one. It didn’t have fancy furniture or a china cabinet, and I thought all homes had to have that. I didn’t know if I was doing it right, if I was crazy to buy a house without having a family or kids. I was afraid I had been wrong. After worrying all morning, I went and checked my mail and there was your note. And then I knew. I knew that this was my home because I was pouring love into it. I realised that’s what makes a home and boy do I have one.”

I was amazed by this and hugged her back. I thanked her for sharing her story with me and then headed on my way home, smiling with the thought of how writing one simple note made a difference.



  1. November 11, 2006 / 3:00 PM

    Simply beautiful!

  2. April 2, 2008 / 4:56 PM

    I love this post.

  3. August 29, 2013 / 3:55 AM

    Oh this so reminded me of when I bought my first, and only, house. There was just me and it was a real dump but as soon as I walked through the door I could see the potential in it and set to work scraping and painting and sanding and cleaning. Now I live abroad but that house still belongs to me. I do miss it! Great little story and inspirational!