Friday, May 19, 2017

This Old House

It doesn't look like much from the top of the hill where the old church sits.  It looked like even less when I was growing up, shaped like those children's drawings of their house, taller than it was wide, with windows that looked like rectangular eyes. Dad always said that it looked like a "two-storey outhouse." It was nothing more than part of someone else's house when it was moved to the property in 1954. Dad, providing for his oldest son and pregnant wife, closed off the open end and built the second storey. Though it served the purpose, it wasn't much to look at.

But it was home. All the rooms were cramped, and there was never enough space to put things, but there was always - miraculously - room for one more person to share a meal. I remember one family gathering where there were nineteen people there for the meal and we ate at two tables plus a child's table to accommodate everyone. 

When my brother's marriage ended, and he had nowhere else to go, they opened their arms wide and the house became home again to him. Dad realized that their other children had homes of their own, but that this child no longer had that luxury. He insisted that the family home pass to this son. My mother honoured his request only a few short years ago.

Photo "Childs Drawing Made With Chalk" courtesy of
m_bartosch at

Dad had always wanted to "build on." He never saw that day, but in 1994, about a year after he passed away, Mom got a contractor's license and contracted the work out herself. That's how the house got an extra bedroom, bathroom, dining room, and living room, all on the main floor, and the stairs got relocated to the "new part." This opened up the old living room to convert to what is essentially a bedroom with a TV in it.  This is where my brother sleeps now.

The walls of this old house have rung with laughter. They have dripped with grief, and fear, and anger. The memories haunt me when I go there to visit, so I focus on the people and not the memories. The last time I was there, Mom was still living there, but now she lives in a hospital room, waiting for someone else to die so that she can be placed in a nursing home ... not by her choice or any of ours. 

It will be hard going back there without her to greet me with a hug ... but go I will, to visit my brother. He and I and this house are linked together. We have all experienced a common history.

It is my brother's ability to manage the house and its expenses that occupies my thoughts lately. He is missing Mom, and having to deal with paying the bills and providing for his needs without help.  If all goes well, though, he will be able to handle this responsibility. 

Although I no longer call this old house "home", I still feel a connection to it, and I want to make sure it is available to my brother for as long as he needs it. I don't know exactly what all that will mean, but the old homestead still has some memories left to build. And I'm willing to do my part to make sure that they are good ones.

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