Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Old House, Part 2

A few times a week, on the way to or from work, I'd drive by my childhood home to see whether someone new had bought it and moved in. Eventually, I saw things happening at the place. It wasn't things I liked seeing, nor was it anything I dreamed would happen.

A huge piece of  heavy equipment was parked in the yard.....some sort of bull dozer. The house had lost its shingles, and it had been stripped of the tar paper that used to be between the shingles and the plywood that formed the outside walls. Over the next few days, windows were removed, then plywood came off the studwork, leaving a skeleton of the house.  Just as I had watched the construction from the ground up, I was now watching a process of deconstruction.  It was upsetting.

A few days later, I noticed that there was a new block foundation on the dining room end of the house. Now what? It wasn't long before I saw that the structure that I knew as "Home" was gone. Everything about it...gone. The building,the weeping willow,  the 50 plus year old Azalea bushes, some of which had been moved from our former home to the new one, the Lilacs, the beautiful Crab Apple tree that bloomed so profusely in the front yard each Spring, all destroyed and carted away. The tall pine trees in the back yard where Daddy had fixed a long bar with swings hanging on it for my kids to play on had been demolished. The large, prolific, bright blue Hydrangeas that had been in near the house and the border of the property, crushed by the machinery.  The sunny spots where Dad had his garden and compost piles had been erased.  I felt as if my life had been eradicated.

In time, a new house was built...from the ground up. It, too, was a long, narrow, one story structure. They'd added to the foundation, but used the old one to build upon, but it sure didn't look a thing like the home I'd lived in. My curiosity got the best of me one day, and I tried to peek inside the windows.  All I could see was that the house was open from the front wall to the back one. It didn't tell me much.   Sometime later, after work, I saw that there was a workman at the house. I bit the bullet, gathered my nerve, and knocked on the door, telling him I'd lived in the former house, and wondered if I could see the new one.  He let me in, let me wonder through the unfamiliar areas.

The front door had been moved. The wall of the living room, where our TV used to be, now was the location of a lovely fireplace. On the other side of that wall used to have three bedrooms, now it was two larger ones.  The kitchen had been moved, and the house was very open. You could look through front windows clear through to look out of the back windows.  Everything was so different. The views to the back yard showed that the property had been cleared of all vegetation to the boundary lines, still marked by orange neon painted stakes left by the surveryors.  There, smack in the middle of the lawn where our picnic table sat in the shade  and where the grill had been used, was a rectangular, turquoise, vinyl, inground swimming pool. 

Yes, it was all lovely....but still, heartache filled my chest.  I left that day knowing that changes had taken place...transformations that I couldn't undo. Over time, before a new family had moved into that building, the house was sold again, and the vinyl pool  was replaced with a gunite one. A step up  patio was installed in the front of the house, forward of where Grandpa's room once stood. Then privet was planted around it, for privacy.  A garage was built on to the front left of the house and a driveway moved to that end from the other side. Today there is a tall privet near the street, blocking the house, almost completely from the road.

No longer do I worry about the changes in my childhood homeplace. Changes take place in everything. My life had taken many turns since the days I lived on that property. A marriage, a family, a divorce, grown children, a new marriage, a move to another state.  Not all changes are bad things, some bring real happiness. The days and events lived in that small ranch house my Dad built will always be a part of me, no one can change that. It is my hope that the memories made in the new residence, for the new occupants, will be as good for them as mine are for me.