my high/low for the day
damages

all that is left

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my grandparents' house was torn down today.

it's a long, sad, infuriating story, but all that remains now are the stories and memories.

my dad and his siblings were raised there. nearly every christmas of my childhood and young adulthood was spent there. i swam in the lake all summer long. i got ready for formal dances in high school and my sister's wedding in my aunt's pink bathroom, with butterflies on the wallpaper and movie star lights around the mirrors. it always smelled slightly of talcum powder. my high school graduation party was held in the backyard. i caught the first - unbeknownst to us at the time - glimpse of my future husband across the lake in 8th grade, when my best friend and i were on a paddle boat, and he and his friend were shooting at frogs with bb guns. we would meet again, for real, five years later, just yards away, on the college campus.

in that place in the brain that holds sensory things, i can still hear the squeak of the basement door to the garage, smell the fragrance of gasoline mingled with sawdust from grandpa's wood shop. i can hear the creak of the stairs, the heavy whoosh of the sliding doors to the deck, the white noise splash of the fountains on the lake, and the geese honking happily as they pooped all over the yard. i can remember the yellow and red tulips in the planter lining the driveway ... the daffodils and japanese maple in the garden behind the house, all of grandma's bird feeders by the front window. there was the low westminster quarters played on the bells of the college administration building across the street ... and on the grandfather clock in the great room. the ornate, heavy front door. the imposing stone fireplace and hearth, where we all sat to crack thousands of nuts over lifetimes of christmases. grandpa's massive congressional desk in his wood-paneled office. the game table and orange roller chairs where the adults sat to play hour upon hour of boggle, and the kids sat to do innumerable crafts. the red, white, and blue stripes on the ceiling of "the pit," and the crazy 60s carpet in the basement, covered with gameboards. i wish i had a picture of that carpet. i forgot to ask my mom for one when she went to visit the house one last time. though, by this point, the house was in disrepair, almost to the point of ruin, so who knows what even still existed of that carpet.

when henry was small, and harper smaller, my parents briefly lived in my grandparents' house. my grandparents had moved to assisted living, but the family wanted to keep the house alive for gatherings and sentiment. my kids got to have two christmases there - christmases they will never remember, but i'm grateful happened. they got to slide their stocking onto the pole grandpa always used, and sit on the couch to hear "'twas the night before christmas" read by their grandpa, just like mine had done with me and all my cousins. they got to bake cookies in the kitchen with grandma ... right in front of the drawer where my and my cousins' grandma kept tins of oreos and fig newtons and chips ahoy that we would all sneak. (i'm assuming we all snuck cookies ... i know i did.)

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the last time we were all there together was when grandma passed, 12 years ago ... before half the cousins married and had their own families; we all still felt like "the kids" at that point. the paddle boat was taken out ... and promptly half sunk, halfway across the lake. the fishing poles came out and everyone took a turn wetting a line. it was just like it always had been.

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but it was the last time. my parents moved shortly after - again, part of the long, sad, infuriating story - and that was it. for 12 years, the house sat ... empty, alone, neglected by those to whom it was entrusted.

knowing it was being torn down today was heartbreaking, but watching it fall apart was worse. all the years, all the memories ... disrespected. ignored.

years change people and traditions. the generations shift ... the oldest layer of relatives ages, and the newest grow up and have their own schedules. there are more bodies and moving parts, so gatherings are no longer as feasible or easy. a house is just the container that holds the moments; our hearts and minds hold the memories. but it's also hard to grow up and move on. sometimes you just want to sit at grandma and grandpa's house, hear them fussing over everyone, feel the security of your own parents nearby, hear the laughter and teasing, and know where the center is.

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Comments

Jean

Oh how sad for you. I can feel your sadness. Those are beautiful memories and pictures. Much love you you. 😥❤️

Amy

Beautiful memories. I'm so sorry the house had to be torn down.

Janet T

This was beautiful and I marvel at your wonderful memories...I feel so much of the same things you spoke about...the sights and sounds. Many years ago I sold my childhood home and the new owners built a mini mansion on the foundation of the small ranch. I used to go by a take a look until looking hurt more than it helped. I’m sorry that you’re sad and all I can do is hold your memory with respect and honor...May we all learn something from your words.

Angela Fretwell

Awww such beautiful memories to cherish. Sorry that lovely house was torn down, but your memories will live on. xoxo

Samm Starrs

What a beautiful vivid picture you have painted with such a heartbreakingly sad ending. Be gentle with yourself in the days coming.

Victoria

Such a beautiful memorial. It made me sad. Your memories brought me joy! As I hope they always will you. Cherish them.

Francine

I'm so sorry. Sounds like some beautiful memories.

Christal Kelly

This is beautifully composed. I'm so sorry for you loss.

Lisa

I'm so sorry about the house being torn down. How awful!!! (((HUGS)))

Cheryl Turtlemoon

That’s so sad :( I hope you’re ok .

Donna

such memories, tinged with sadness, but time shifts, lives shift, memories stay with you.

April

Oof. That would be so hard. But you write beautifully about your memories.

elle

I'm sorry the house is gone, what a shame it could not be saved and restored. I'm glad you have photos though and your memories of course. Elle xx

Nicole

This took me back to a similar moment in my life when my grandparents were both gone. Thank you for sharing 💗

Sue Blott

Heartwarming memories but a heartbreaking end for the house, the 'center'. Thank you so much for sharing this. I felt like I lived through all those special times there with you. Such an intimate post. I hope it has helped in some tiny way to have the house and your feelings and memories witnessed by people reading your post. Much love. <3

Deb M

Holding space for you in your sadness. Thank you for sharing those treasured memories♥

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