May 19, 2009

Home Sweet Home?

This is the cute little house my husband grew up in. It looks pretty much the same except that it used to be red. His parents bought it for $6000 on a land contract when they were in their 20's, and they lived there for 40 years. It had a coal furnace when they moved there. They did a lot of work on the house over the years, adding a couple rooms, a garage, etc. And they did the work themselves, one cement block at a time. My father-in-law was the type who could fix anything, and was especially good at planning things out in his mind and then going out and purchasing exactly the amount of anything that was needed, with no waste. My mother-in-law was (and still is) a meticulous housekeeper of Scandanavian stock, and I think she really believes that cleanliness is next to godliness ("you can't get corners clean with a mop").

The house is situated in an older section of our home town, and in fact, my grandmother's house was right next door, and when I was young I used to take a taxi to visit her, and my husband and I played together as children. Through high school and even college, the house was a landing place for my husband and his friends. I was there myself many times during those years, and I can personally attest to the love and care this house was given.

When my in-laws eventually moved to a larger home in the suburbs after they took early retirement, I remember my mother-in-law making a comment to the effect that while they loved their new house, it would never hold the memories of the old one. I think I know exactly what she means, as we also moved from the house where we did so much work and the place where we raised our children, at least through their earlier years. The house where we struggled to make the payments, and gave the best of our youthful energy to fix up, and where we brought our babies home.
That's why it was so difficult for my husband the other day, when we took a ride by the old house, and saw these signs posted on the door:

"This building cannot be used for human habitation". What shocking words! This "building" where so many memories were made over many years. This home that was so loved and cared for. This place that was once occupied by a family who loved and respected each other, now seized by authorities and its newer occupants probably in jail somewhere for illegal drug manufacturing activity.

When my husband called his mother to tell her what we had discovered, to our surprise, she already knew about it. But she never told us. Interesting. Has she just "moved on" so much in her life that it didn't bother her? Or is it just too painful to feel the blow of the impact of memories? I don't know. But I know my husband was very much affected. He is sad. He lived in the house all through college and even came back for a short time after he did four years in the Navy, right up until the time we were married. So that little house truly was "home sweet home" to him.

We are wondering now what will happen to it. Will it be razed? Will it just disappear from the landscape? Will the memory of it and of all the years spent there be left only there, in memory? Actually, that's not a bad thing. Memories can be such a blessing, for those fortunate enough to live out their lives with memory intact. Because it's not really the house that is held so dear, but the people and the lives lived there that really matters.


Wanda said...

We share similar backgrounds Jacquelyn...My husband and I shared a childhood growing up 4 houses apart...and he spent 4 years in the Air Force...his family home was occupied by us at one time...his sister, his nephew, and eventually our own daughter...but the time did come when it was razed...our daughter and her family now live on the property in a home they was sad for all at the time...but now new memories are being made there...Time changes everything.

Andy said...

Wow. That makes me really sad. I've got a lot of memories there, too.

Rebecca said...

I, too, am sandwiched....I, too, keep busy without having an outside job! It was good to "meet" you a few days ago...I look forward to sharing thoughts and experiences from time to time.