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Boy was I excited! Finally, for the first time in my life, I was going to move into my first brand new house and it was an absolute beauty.

I spent hours upon hours walking up and down the hallway just looking at that sunken living room. I had never actually seen one of those before and always thought they were only for rich people. It sure made me proud to now have one for my very own. I smiled real big and then put a foot down onto the one step, which led down onto the beautifully carpeted living room. Then I carefully looked to make sure I did not get any dirt on the golden colored carpet. Then I removed my shoes and walked all around the living room feeling the soft, new, thick carpet beneath my feet.

I walked to into the master bedroom and looked at "the room before the bathroom." A dressing type of room with large closets on each side and mirrors as tall as the ceiling, as well as two sinks in the same room. Who ever heard of that before?

I met the real estate agent for the last time, signed the final papers and he handed me the keys. I jumped into my car and rushed as fast as could to my rented mobile home to get the family and start the moving-in process.

Independence Drive was a good name for the street that I was going to live on with my family. That was a very good day in my life, because no one in my family would ever have to live on the streets like I did as young boy when running away from that abusive Florida orphanage. This house would be kept in brand new condition, and would last forever and ever -- so that all my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren would always have a nice, new looking place to live, no matter what.

That held true year after year and about five years later, we sold that immaculate house for number one, Grade A, top dollar. There was not a spot or smear or hole anywhere in that beautiful house. Not even on the walls could you find a small nail hole that would have held a picture.

I was supposed to meet with the real estate agent who was selling our house later that evening and when I arrived, I was surprised to find the new owners of the house standing in the driveway. I parked my car, walked up and began talking with the older couple.

"This house is in perfect condition," said the old man. "Perfect in every way," I said. "As good a condition as the orphanage that I lived in when I was a kid. Not even a nail hole in any of the walls", I told him proudly.

"It's really too bad that nobody lived here," said the old woman. "I lived here for five whole years," I said with a great big smile on my face. "No. You didn't live here for five years. You just stayed here for five years," said the old lady.

All the way home I thought about what she said. What did she mean? How could they not be happy about buying a house in perfect condition and without any holes in the walls? I was very puzzled as I drove along Yosemite Boulevard shaking my head. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I quickly pulled over to the side of the road and just sat there thinking. The old lady was absolutely right.

Just because you stay in a house, it doesn't mean you really lived in it, unless you put your heart into it, enjoy it and do the things that make you happy while you’re there -- like walking into the living room and seeing pictures of the kids and the smiling faces of the grandchildren or watching them yelling their little lungs out under the sprinkler in your front yard, and yes, maybe even a picture of the old dog who decided to go to the bathroom on that beautiful carpet. (The one I hit with the newspaper and then he came back later and licked me on the leg.)

I sat there alone biting my bottom lip and feeling very much ashamed of what I had done by having lost five years of my life, not to mention what I had taken from my family without even realizing it. Living really is much more than just remembering yesterday with only your mind. It is walking into your home and living for today with your heart and your eyes. Those holes in the wall, when all the furniture is gone and the house is completely bare, are memory holes and without any memories, "You didn't really live there. You just stayed there."

Today, our home in Brunswick, Georgia has so many darn pictures of kids, grandkids, friends and dogs on the walls that it might collapse one day. And if it does, that will be very sad for me.

At least it will be one large pile of happiness to clean up and I will thank God for that.

Roger Dean Kiser, Sr.

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