This photo is of last summer's views. Before we built the ramp this spring.
From time to time, I speak of my wonderful mother and daddy, and some of you do know them in person. But perhaps the tale I'm about to relate will explain to you the essence of my dad. In my opinion, he is the ultimate optimist, the eternal saver, and the original fix-it fox. My dad truly believed he could fix anything and everything, never throw it away. Fix it. When he married my mother, they lived in an apartment for a little under three years, but he wanted a home of his own in the worst possible way. One night, the story goes, he cast his eyes across a field owned by my mother's father, spied a shell of an old house that was being used to store bales of hay and straw. "There. For a little bit of nothing, I could fix that up for a house to live in."
The wintry view through blowing snow a couple of years ago when I was stuck coming down the drive. This old house looked so cozy and warm...
And so he did. Well, actually it was just a little bit more than a little bit of nothing. It was a whole lot of something, and that something, I believe, was pure determination blended with love. How could I not love this house, I wonder, when I feel stuck, homeless, lost in time. My dad pulled off a rehabilitation akin or better than those done by Rehab Addict
, one of my favorite HGTV shows. He had to pull out all the hay and drive out the raccoon and skunks that had nested right here in this very house. He had to determine what was salvageable and what was truly not. By the looks of these photos, I can't imagine how he decided that. My mother says he brought home one or two boards each paycheck, and he determinedly proceeded to make this house his home. She said that it took about one year to finish the house to a liveable state with no rest rooms or finished floors, but they moved in. If people came to visit, they had to watch my dad work! She said his brother in law, my Uncle Paul, (the daddy of my sister cousin), helped a lot, and often my dad's father went into town to get the other brother in law, Uncle Keith, when the situation called for a lot of hands.
For a little bit of nothing, he said... What a vision!
These summer rains make me think of the story he liked to tell, my grandmother loved to tell, and now I'll share it with you. During one especially torrential downpour, my dad didn't come home from working on the house. Mom, Dad, and Baby Me were staying about a mile away across the field in my grandparents' home. He usually ate a bite of supper and came here to work, slipping in to sleep a few hours and then going to work an 8-hour shift as a lineman for the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. On this monsoon-like evening, he just didn't show. My grandmother finally got into their car and drove over here to check on him at five a.m. in the morning. It's legend by now. My father was down in the hand dug basement he had made after raising the home on stilts and cutting off the bottom few feet that had rotted away. The water was pouring into the basement, eroding the mud sides. The whole house was on the verge of slipping into that crater of a basement and simply giving up the ghost. But daddy was scooping water and bailing mud out of his basement with a ten or twenty gallon bucket. My grandmother said She didn't even go up to the edge of the basement to look. She just sat there and watched the mud and water slosh up and over the rim of the earth. I guess she came home and told my grandfather, "That man wants a house in the worst way." <3
My grandfather, Paw-Paw, peering into the hand dug basement. No doubt my father was deep in the recesses of his dream!
Fast forward to a year later. Daddy, Mom, and I moved into this wonderful house, minus its wood floors saved from an old schoolhouse that was being razed. The fireplace was moved, the linoleum laid in the kitchen, which is still in fairly good shape after 65 years, coats of Panama Green coated living room walls... much like it is today. Daddy decided to add on a garage and a dining room and extra bedroom or pantry lovingly called the knotty pine room due to its tongue and groove pine boarding. That sufficed from about 1959 to the year after my dad had quadruple bi-pass heart surgery. Around 1990, he and his Amish friends proceeded to build a bedroom from the garage and a barn from the materials gleaned from my grandmother's home. We had been forced to tear that dear, old, two-story girl to the ground due to the Right of Way of Highway... Another tale, of course.
I come from that kind of person. At heart I am that kind of person, except I don't have the skills or strength or knowledge to do what my mother and dad did and could do all their lives. I ran a different direction with my life, teaching school and flitting about. But it's no wonder that I'm about as stubborn as you can find. Determination and stubbornness... almost the same coin, but they do spend a little differently. These old photos had been misplaced, and my mother, understandably, was forlorn about it. She thought I had done it, but I finally found them in a drawer where I know she tucked them right before she fell last Thanksgiving. Hallelujah! We are happy to see them once again and marvel at the gaping holes, the terrible condition, the pond in the front yard, and the little baby on my grandmother's shoulder, which is, of course, me.
Yes, that is a sixty year ago, little me. And yes... That is my dear five foot nothin' gramma with white high heels on... it was summer, obviously. She worked so hard every day in those heels until her little feets were unable to wear almost ANY shoe at all! She didn't take her apron off to drive over. I wonder what on earth she was thinking about her crazy son-in-law! What I sure don't have is a photo of my dad standing beside this house. No sir. He was too busy deep below, on top, or somewhere else earning the money to pay for it.
At times I have pondered moving away to a brand new home with no crumbing linoleum, no creosote peeping through the walls from the old telephone poles he used for joists, from the square peg nails you can still see, from the little sections of termite-eaten shelving in a storage closet... but nah... Not yet. As with most things, houses, cars, passions, this house needs a bit of time, effort, and money thrown at it to resource some new surfaces, paint over a bit of fading, revisit the re-birthing of a new vision for an old space. That kind of remodeling is fine with me here because, after all, I now sleep in a room located just a little to the left of the house you see in the old pictures, just a bit outside of the space that looks remarkable like an old fireplace had been jerked from the side of the house (because it had, its bricks carefully saved to use on the new fireplace built in a crooked little fashion by an old Swedish stonemason for my mother. I sleep right there in that window overlooking Mom's new ramp.
In honor of June and the month of Father's Day, this post says officially that I adored my Daddy, love to pieces my mother, and delight in every way to see their amazing attributes demonstrated in my wonderful son. My dad wanted a home, and he built one. I want a home, and I have one readily available for my attention and love. It may be time to "scoop some mud."
Have a wonderful June. Whimsy and Hugs!