Not Our Ways: Saying Good-bye to My Childhood Home

I'm sorry--rude of me--you just needed someone to get mad with you, not a sermon!   This was the text message I received a few weeks ago from my dear friend, Gina.   I had called her earlier to share news of our day so far and we had to get off the phone before we were finished speaking. 

Our family made a 29-hour round trip dash to south Louisiana to close on my parents' farm.   Actually, the farm is technically not in south Louisiana because it's north of I-10.   There are some people who don't think it's still the south at all if it's north of I-10!  

The farm is on a little over sixteen acres of rolling land.   There are old massive pecan trees scattered throughout the property, a pond, several barns, and the brick house we called home.   Normally, I would insert old pictures of the place here, but my scanner is not cooperating; I'll add them another time!   We moved there right before I turned four and we moved away the summer before my senior year of high school.   So, there are lots of memories associated with that home, although I haven't lived there for a very long time.  

I have to remind myself and re-convince myself that selling was the right thing to do.   I have managed the place as a rental property for the past five years, after I became my father's legal guardian as his dementia worsened and his health declined.   It is not easy to manage a property long-distance with your own young children and home already under your charge.   And as I have learned again and again over these past few years, the memories aren't really there; they are in our hearts and minds.  

So, I prepared myself for my Big Moment of Closure.   I was to walk through the empty house, alone, and say my "good-byes."   I had not seen it completely empty since we moved away.   I had braced myself for this Moment.   Then, we drove up the driveway, to the back of the house, and saw the breeze-way crowded with the Buyer's belongings.  "Okay," I thought, "the real estate agent said he asked if he could go ahead a move a few boxes in the garage since his storage unit would not hold everything.   I guess the boxes spilled over."  

We piled out of the van and walked up the sidewalk.  Through the french door I could look into the kitchen and tell the buyers had already set up housekeeping.   A package of bread was in the middle of the counter, along with small appliances, and a key rack holding three sets of keys.  As we walked through the house, we were met with similar sights: toiletries on the bathroom sinks, beds set up and made in two of the bedrooms, large appliances plugged in and filled, and my old bedroom in the process of being painted pink.

To say I was shocked would be accurate; to say I was livid would be an understatement.   Long story short, I signed something without reading it completely and I probably have no legal recourse and even if I did, it wouldn't be worth the expense of a Louisiana lawyer.   Plus, I have no desire to fight with anyone.   Little as it's been in the proverbial "grand scheme of things," I've gone through enough in my life to make me avoid drama.

We had to hurry back to a near-by town for the closing--a closing which would normally take 30 minutes took almost 2 hours thanks to a story-telling title lawyer.   The buyers said it would be okay if I went back to the house and picked some pecans.  

So, we headed back to the farm.   It was so nice and quiet and there was a nice light breeze.   It felt like fall and it brought back memories of my favorite season there.   We picked pecans under the family's favorite trees.   The girls swung on a tree swing in the backyard.  Thomas played with toy tractors and trucks scattered in the yard.   That was the most bittersweet moment.   I cannot begin to express how happy it would have made Mama to see Thomas in his overalls, playing in the backyard.   I took lots of pictures, though and even took my own turn on the swing.


Sweet girls swinging.  Mama would get so tickled by me in my swing.   When I was in elementary school, John Anderson had a hit with the country song, "Swinging" and I would sit in the backyard singing the song as I swung.   Come to think of it, we had a cow named "Charlotte Johnson."   Most of our cows were named after country music song titles.   Seriously.   Elvira, Bobby Sue, White Dove, Cajun Baby,...Daddy's idea.


I share my mother's tendency to melt at the sight of a little boy in overalls.   A pair was always her gift of choice for new baby boys and I carry on that tradition.


On the way back to the title office for the last paperwork, I called Regina and told her what I found when I arrived at the house.   She felt badly that I had not had my Moment of Closure, but then she went into one of her classic scripture-filled, heart-felt, and  inspirational pep-talks.   She reminded me that God's ways are not our ways and later I might be able to see why God allowed the Moment I planned for to turn out differently.   She was thankful for the moments I did have and the new memories with the children I created there.   Then we arrived at the office and I had to let her go quickly.

Thus, the text message apology when none was required at all.   As He has done so many times, God used wise friends to speak to my heart.   I had my beginning of closure and then peace descended upon me--in God's time, not mine and I left my childhood home with much more gained than lost. What a blessing that He's in charge because I can really make a muddle of things when I try to take over.   Thanks be go God!




One of my warmest, fuzziest childhood memories involves this pine wall that was opposite my bedroom door.   Christmas Eve was the only time we left the tree plugged in overnight.   I can remember waking up early Christmas morning, bounding out of bed and seeing the warm colorful reflection cast upon this wall by the twinkling lights of our tree.  

 

Our pond.   The polled Hereford cattle liked to wade out to the middle on really hot days. 


These tree roots seemed much bigger as a child!   We climbed them as our "steps."


Our little farm lay at the end of a country road and this was the view, approaching the house.   At night during Christmas, you could see our trees shining in the picture windows of the dining and living rooms.   I was able to watch for the bus from the living room window and just walk out the door and step onto it.


Trees, glorious trees!  


The old camellia outside my bedroom window.   The renters cut it back, unfortunately and changed the shape.   Luckily, they didn't remove it completely the way they did our other bushes and perennial plants.   When we were little, my friends and I would play Joker's Wild (a game show from the 1980s) on this tree.   There were two limbs in the back that had been trimmed back and you could pull them and let go just like the levers the contestants pulled on the show.   Another person played host and if you won, she would tear off leaves (money) and give them to you.

 

 My childhood home.   The gardenia by the front door is gone.   To this day, I describe a warm humid morning as a "gardenia morning."   The first warm, humid days of the last weeks of school coincided with the blooming of that fragrant bush I stood beside as I waited for the bus to stop in our circle driveway.   Mama had antique roses along the right side of the house and massive old azaleas were on the left side.   Our renter once saw a snake in a flowerbed so she tore out all the plants:( .

 

Yard, right side of house, pasture beyond.   Surprising to see how the renters let the fence rows grow up.   We used to mow under the fence that now just appears to be a line of trees and bushes.   I can remember midnight badminton games with Regina, under the dusk/dawn light, using the space between two tall crepe myrtles as our "net."
 

Really, need I say anything about this picture?  Hot Krispy Kreme donuts, brought from the back, right off the line.   
 

Good ol' Louisiana pecans, a mixture from Mama's favorite tree and my favorite.   Hers?   Because they tasted the best; they had the highest oil content.   Mine?   Because that tree had the biggest pecans.   I had to pick enough pecans to fill an ice cream bucket each day after school and so I chose to pick under the tree with the biggest pecans!   I'm thankful I live in a place where pecans are grown
.

 The Mighty Mississippi--Now, that's a River!

Comments

  1. What GREAT memories you have! I love how even the scent of a gardenia can make you remember. It is funny how much bigger things seem when you're little. I remember thinking that of my childhood home too. I'm glad that a difucult day turned out OK!

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