The house by the side of the road
My Santa Bob cousin is a poet–which I didn’t know. But he sent me a card after the new year, and on its cover is a photo of my old homestead. On many levels, it distresses me. The barn has “lost” its north and south additions. The house has lost its paint. The “chicken house,” which was my dad’s family’s first home there, still stands. The many trees he planted are still growing.
The house especially saddens me, as it is well-built, and I always hoped it would be a home for others. At one time, someone asked about buying and moving it, but that costs quite a bit of money. So it remains empty, falling to ruin as years go by.
I know those first windows to the south are in the kitchen. The other one is the spare bedroom. I remember every square inch of that place, and I loved it, and to this day I still prefer story-and-a-half houses.
I’ve always thought deserted farmsteads are about as heartbreaking as it can get. Many of the buildings around where I grew up are no longer standing, or are abandoned. I don’t drive by my old home very often, as it makes me incredibly sad.
Bob’s thoughts are accurate. After all, his parents’ and grandparents’ farms are among those he is talking about…gone. In those houses, too, I can remember every room, as well as at other neighbors’ homes. A lot of life was lived on those premises.
I have many memories, be it of my home, or of the closest neighbor’s farm. And it’s not only the house–I remember the barns, the trees, the animals, the sights and smells. It’s nice to realize that someone feels the same as I do.
Bob wrote, “I wrote this as a tribute to the empty houses that set on the prairies where I grew up. As I wrote it, it seemed that I could have been writing about a person. I guess that is what a house is—an extension of oneself.”
“I’ve been a house, I’ve been a home, You will see me no matter where you roam.
My outside walls are nailed down tight, Have sheltered many on dark, lonely nights.
My inside walls have felt the passions of husband and wife, Heard the cries when a newborn enters life.
Felt tense moments of anger, heard the laughter of children, Things that make a family at the day’s end.
All things are built in years or a day, Are meant to be torn down or just to decay.
I have encompassed many people, And know when I am gone, In their memories, I will live on.”
The house I loved absolutely the most…an old Victorian at 415 Houston Avenue in Crookston, burned to the ground after we moved. But are my memories there? Of course. That’s where I was the happiest in my life. When I dream, often that house is the locale.
Thank you, Bob, for giving validation to what I think many people feel…it may be a transitory life, but there are memories of so many places, so many people, who got us to where we are at this moment.
For many of us, we “can’t go home again,” but memories give us that ability. And isn’t that wonderful? I think it is one of God’s underestimated blessings.