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My sister sold her house.

A red brick structure in McLean, Virginia, where she and her husband raised three children, the house sold two weeks after it was listed.

“I’m happy to get the contract,” she said on the phone, “but I also feel kind of sad.”

Sad to leave the bedroom hallway, lined with family photographs (or it was until the realtor ordered her to remove them and paint it.) For 28 years, her children walked to school, went to prom, and returned from college.

The entire family gathered there after our father’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Then, repeated the event 20 years later when we buried our mother with him.

More than bricks and mortar, my sister is selling a house permeated with memories.

Last year, 15 percent of US home sales involved dwellings that had been in the same hands for more than 20 years, according to the National Association of Realtors. A century ago, several generations lived in the same house, so these transactions were more rare.

Today couples tend to unload large homes before they grow too old to take care of them. Downsizing has become a retirement “rite of passage,” as children follow career paths across the country and no longer live close enough to help out.

My sister and her husband will move into a new condo and I shall try to forget the address that I memorized 28 years ago. Soon , two new little boys will be playing in her old backyard.

My sister doesn’t need a five-bedroom house anymore. She just needs a moment to grieve.

So do I.

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