Sunday, June 14, 2009

A House Reborn...

The homes in our family have not remained in our family. Over the years, the homes which were my grandparents' were sold. The house which my parents built and I grew up in and even the place where my children were reared, went to new owners. In some ways, this saddens me. It's not so much the houses that I loved, but the history in them that I want to preserve. But then, it is all written on the walls of my heart and those histories will forever be within my thoughts.

Another home, one belonging to my younger brother, will soon become the home of someone else. When he passed away, the property and house had to be sold in order to settle the estate. Though there were some of us who had hoped to keep the acreage and house, the attorney said it would not be possible, and so it was sold. The developer/contractor who bought it wanted only the land, and we feared that the little house my brother had built in the mid-'80s would be torn down. Fortunately that didn't happen, and the man donated the place to Habitat for Humanity.

With my camera, I documented the events following the man's gift. I watched as the house was jacked up and taken off it's foundation. I sadly noted the pile of debris that once was a wooden deck, a front porch, a brick chimney, and the block foundation. I snapped my shutter as the little house was loaded onto the huge truck that would transport the house down the rural road to the two lane highway, to the new location ten miles away.

Over the next year I made frequent visits to the house to watch and to photograph it's progress.
I watched as it was placed on its new foundation and when it was stripped of the vinyl siding and the original wood clapboard siding. When the wooden windows were removed, they were replaced with vinyl ones. The front porch was rebuilt, and trimmed with columns and railing. The rear deck was replaced. Where the sliding doors were is now a single french door to the deck. The inside remained much the same, but for a small wall which was removed between the dining room and kitchen in order to provide a counter space and more light. The oak floors were sanded and refinished, and the bathrooms were redone. The walls were painted a light tan and new ceiling fixtures were installed. Small gardens were placed in front, two trees were planted.
A cement driveway was laid and a sidewalk leads to the bright new front door. The house is ready. I think it would please my brother to see this and to know that his home will be loved and lived in by someone who might otherwise not have ever owned a home of her own.

Next Sunday the little house will be dedicated and presented by Habitat for Humanity to the new owner. I hear that she is very excited and can't stop smiling. I will be there, at the ceremonies. I want to present her with another gift, one I've been working on for nearly as long as they've been preparing her new home. It is a scrapbook filled with pages documenting the history of the house in pictures and in words. It is my hope that she will enjoy knowing of how her home was built and how it housed a little family before her.

As she builds her own memories and lives what will become her own history in the little home, I wish her many years of happiness.