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My home is open

Lisa Sygutek

May 10, 2023

In the last 23 years we’ve had a lot of people come into our home and share our space, some for just a week, some for years.

The other day one of my boys said that our house is like a halfway house. I asked what he meant, and the response was that we always have our door open when someone needs a place to stay. I was a bit shocked and then I started thinking. 

In the last 23 years we’ve had a lot of people come into our home and share our space, some for just a week, some for years. It started when I was 27 and Keiran was just a baby. We took in a Timberwolves hockey player and he lived with us for almost two years. 

Right after he left my niece Metallea moved in, she was 18 months old and stayed with us for almost a year until social services gave that poor soul back to her mother and father (I could say so much more, but I won’t). That experience was so traumatizing on me that I took a break for a few years. That is until my nephew Jimmy wanted to try living in Canada.

Jimmy is the oldest son of my brother Gary and he’d just finished playing Junior Hockey in the United States. He wanted to see what Canada was like, so he moved in for almost six months. It was a blast having him, he even played hockey with the local mens league, making many friends in the community.

After that my nephew Tyler moved in as he finished high school. My sister got a divorce and I often say that I won her son in the divorce. Quinn was only two at the time and to this day he thinks of Ty as his third brother. Ty was a beautiful addition to the house. I was now the proud mom of four sons. They played a ton, ate me out of house and home, and Quinn ended up with stitches on many occasions trying to keep up. The house was loud and messy, but man it was fun.

After Ty was my nephew Ricky. Bad move on my part and a good lesson learned on trust.

More recently Keeley stayed with us. She is from an old swim family and was doing work experience as she finished her degree as a Pharmacist. She was only with us for eight weeks, but like everyone else, she was with us all the time. 

We’ve had a number of Keiran’s friends rotate through the house, the last being Treyton, who stayed with us for eight months while doing his co-op at Teck’s Greenhills mine. He’s always just been one of the family, even before he moved in. 

I started wondering why my house is always open. I think it all comes down to my mom. 

When Ricky was fourteen the pool opened in Blairmore and Dr. Irwin started the Pass Piranhas Swim Club. My brother joined and met a new friend named Gary. Gary had just moved to Sparwood with his dad Stan. Gary was from Orcas Island in California. Gary and Ricky became fast friends and Ricky asked my mom if Gary could stay for the summer. The summer turned into forever. I was two when Gary moved in permanently. When Ricky died at sixteen Gary stayed and since I was only four, Gary is really the only brother I know. How lucky am I to gain a brother when one was lost? I am extremely close to Gary and couldn’t imagine my life without him. 

My mother had an open door for kids because when she was a young girl Edna Campbell allowed my mom to move into her house. My mom spent two years with the Campbell Clan and only went back with her mother because she desperately missed my Auntie Donna. My mom learned what family was like because of Edna and her clan, important lessons her own mother didn’t know. So I guess at the end of the day my home is open because someone opened a door for my mom. That’s three generations of open doors. 

How wonderful that I’ve had so many beautiful people walk through my door. It’s always open, the cupboards are full of food, and I’ve got lots of love to give those that need a little more. I often think I’m the luckiest person in the world because I learned very early to appreciate people, not things. When you die they don’t talk about the material things you have, but the people whose lives you impacted.

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