I recently completed the final walk through of my home of twenty-two years. "The Manor," as it was affectionately christened by my daughter Tori, truly had a life of its own. Over the years, it garnered a lion's share of press attention ranging from architectural magazines to influential financial blogs. It even landed its own time slot on the schedule of several Hollywood tour companies. We were always tickled by the sight of the different tour vehicles and their animated guides parked outside the gates. Still, I couldn't help thinking about how the public interest in The Manor overshadowed Aaron's phenomenal talent. Not to mention all the love that went into designing each room of the house and the equity built up over the years by our priceless time together as a family.
It took us three years to buy all the furnishings for the house. This lengthy process had as much to do with our shared vision for the feeling of the house, as it did with the size of the house. It was important for both Aaron and I that the house feel very homey. Then because it was a new construction, I wanted to give the house what I call "the bones of integrity." Aaron was definitely not the type of man who wanted to look at swatches or carpet samples. He said, "whatever you love, I love." So I chose antique mantels for the fireplaces and invested time in creating personal design details like hand painted floral motifs for the master bedroom kitchenette.
Without question, the room I put the most love and thought into designing was Aaron's office. He was a great man and even though he did most of his writing in bed, I wanted his office to represent his incredible accomplishments. With this in mind, most of the square footage in his office was reserved for the leather bound scripts from forty years of hit television shows. Prominently placed on the mantel were his Emmy awards along with his favorite photographs of our children. In fact, one of the most poignant moments I had packing up the house happened in Aaron's office. I gifted Tori with one of her father's Smith Corona typewriters that he used to write on back in the 1950's when he sold his first television script. Tori was very touched to inherit something so personal to her father.
We all had a favorite room in The Manor. The legendary bowling alley is special to Randy since it's where his father taught him to bowl. The "Doll Room" that housed my collection of prized Madame Alexander dolls is most special to me. I spent years collecting the dolls for Tori before she admitted that I loved them more than she did so ownership of the doll museum reverted back to me. Recently, my grandson Liam was here and he asked me if I could lower the screen in the projection room for him. So if that's any indication, we know which was his favorite room.
Standing in the foyer, I am reminded of the 30-foot scaffolding that was erected here for six months. I am suddenly struck by the irony that for twenty-two years, we came and went through the backdoor of the house off the motor court. We only used the foyer to greet guests. Dear friends like Suzanne Pleshette and the Reagans. On more formal occasions it was the likes of Jackie Onassis and Prince Charles. Despite all the high profile visitors, extravagant treasures and awards that filled The Manor, the real gift of our home was being surrounded by family and friends. When Aaron was still around, we had movie night every Saturday night. We'd set out seven or eight different kinds of dessert and have friends over to cozy up on the couches in the screening room to watch the latest blockbuster. Our kids were typical teenagers and had late night food fights in our kitchen.
It is hard to believe that in just four weeks we tore down what took seven years of drawing and four years of construction to build. As I walk through the empty living room, I notice the outline left by the area rugs on the oak floors that have been lightened by the sun. The same brilliant sunlight streams through the front door when I pull it open. It spills in and floods the foyer with two decades worth of joyful family memories.
It is a bittersweet moment for me, but I know in my heart the house has not been a home since Aaron passed away. I am ready to move onward and upward. And finally on my last day, I leave through the front entrance of The Manor.
I am very much looking forward to settling into my new home -- forty two stories upward in the sky. I can't wait to create new memories with my children and grandchildren. We will all be spoiled by the spectacular view of the city we all love so much. I wish the new owners of the house all the best and hope they are as blessed as my family and I were in our home.
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