Maria Alvarez looks around the house as she packs the last box in the kitchen.
“Beaverdale was a great place to get our feet dirty and for our family to bond,” she says.
Maria says she can barely remember when they first moved into the quaint residence, or when her daughter broke her collarbone on the swing set in the backyard, or even when the pear tree in the backyard was big enough to produce a plentiful harvest of fruit.
“But I definitely will never forget how this place made me feel,” she says.
Maria has called Beaverdale her home on and off again for nearly half of her life and attributes the area to helping her in raising her children.
“Beaverdale and Des Moines have always felt like home. They say it takes a village to raise a child and each, and every person I’ve met in this area has gone out of their way to help my family and I,” she says.
Maria lives with her two youngest children, 18-year-old Chris and 19-year-old Andrea, and she says the house is always full of life.
“We have downsized in recent years, but a home is a home, and I’ve never felt more comfortable than in this lot,” she says.
The Alvarez family faced a great loss just five years ago — that’s when Roger, Maria’s husband, passed away.
“Dad always stressed family and sticking together,” says 22-year-old son Jamie, a frequent guest and weekend visitor to the residence. “I feel more at home when I’m back with Mom than I do in my own apartment. It’s not just the physical place; it’s the people you surround yourself with.”
Careful not to ruin her summer dress, Andrea moves a paintbrush thoughtfully over several wall designs, covering them up with white paint.
“We’ve made a lot of memories here — but it doesn’t hurt to move,” she says. “Family and memories are when we’re together — not where we’re together at.”
Andrea says she is fond of their Beaverdale home, but she is happy that her mother has the opportunity to be closer to family in an upcoming move to Colorado.
“It’s weird because my friends ask me ‘Why you movin’ with your mom? Ain’t you old enough to live on your own?’ and I just tell them that I can’t be anywhere without my family,” says Chris as he and his older brother juggles boxes out the back door.
There is — or was — a lot of character behind the Alvarez residence. Photographs of laughing faces fill the walls in rooms not yet packed away. Furniture, antiques and trinkets line every desk and side table with stories that Maria can’t wait to bring with her to her next home.
“Some people think moving is a sad thing, the end of some chapter in their life,” she says. “But leaving Beaverdale and leaving Iowa is not sad. I have only good memories born from here, and it will always be my home. It is time for me to take my baby boy and girl and build new memories elsewhere.”
Chris and Andrea are excited for the move. As for Jamie? While the family hasn’t quite convinced him to quit his day job and move a few states over, he promises to visit. Andrea is planning to attend school in Colorado after the move, saying she is very excited about the new setting.
“Our father always loved the mountains in Colorado, he loved the blue skies, and he loved taking us on trips,” she says. “We may be saying goodbye to our address here, but we definitely are not saying goodbye to our papa and the memories we have of him here.”
“No goodbyes, just good beginnings,” jokes Maria as she places a photograph of her and her late husband into her suitcase.