Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gone but Never Forgotten

This is my Mom's title, but it could also be "Wasteful Endeavours" or "Now is the Time for Sadness" or numerous other things.

Mom emailed me this week to tell me that our childhood house has been torn down. We lived there for ten years, my most memorable childhood years from ages 7 - 17.

Now, it wasn't actually old. It was built in the 70's. Not a pretty time for home design or clothing or style in general, but this house was built with classic style, meant to stand and be lived in and loved in for a very long time. And it was beautiful.

The interior reflected the '70s while we were there and by the time we left even we knew that many of those things needed updating. A wall of gold-flecked mirror and spanish-theme red/gold/black shag carpets are not timeless. But those elements had disappeared since we moved out, to be replaced with all of the beautiful flooring, walls and bannisters that I'm sure Dad had in mind when he built it.

When he built it I'm sure he compromised some of his own style to accommodate a house full of children. We were all allowed to pick our own carpet and wallpapers for our rooms and the end result was that each room was entirely different -- blue and red sailboats in one room, mauve shag carpet in another, gold-flecked shag in another. I loved the purple room that I shared with my sister and I'm sure that was the intent.

The house was for sale a few years ago and I did have a walk through it again. Everything had improved with time, always with the vision that this was not a temporary home. It was gorgeous inside now with hardwood floors everywhere and the oak bannister following the curved staircases were exactly what I pictured always should have been there.

After returning from Holland once, Dad told us that he had carved his name in the closet of his childhood home there and had had a chance to look for it again many years later. It was still there. So we did that too before moving out. That house was meant to stand forever and I always thought I'd be able to return and find my name in the closet, maybe showing it to my children. It's not fair really.

Dad wouldn't look at it. It would have brought different memories for him, of recession and hard times, but he should be proud to know that those are not at all the things I remember from my years of living there. This is what I remember:

  • laughter
  • hide-and-seek games (new friends never thought to look for us inside the laundry chute where you could climb up a bit so your feet wouldn't show - that trick only ever worked once)
  • badminton in the yard - there were enough trees that we were sometimes sheltered from the endless wind
  • skiing on the paths behind the house
  • canoeing on the paths behind the house!
  • weiner-roasts with cousins at the fire pit
  • "camping out" in the playhouse
  • big dinners (with 9 people living there, there was no other kind!)
  • lots of overnight visitors
  • skating on the river behind the house
  • toboganning down the hill to end up on the frozen river
  • learning to ride my bike by being pushed down that same hill

...the list could go on. I was given everything I needed for a very good childhood.

I realize that my memories are of the building as a "home" and any new owner is looking at simply a "house". There's a big difference there. But even just as a "house" it was beautiful. This was not just a beautiful piece of property.

Although, the property was beautiful too. I sincerely hope they kept some of the trees. The old poplars near the river end of the lot, all of the now-mature fruit trees (different types of apples, plums, crabapples, and even grapes which covered the back of the garage when I last saw it), the willow in the front yard (that twig in the first picture was now 30 years old). Dad recovered that land from native riverlot mess and did an awesome job.

This could easily be a post about inconsiderate waste. Mom told me that they threw a $13,000 air conditioner into the hole before filling it up. Couldn't they have looked for a buyer or a charity who could use it or sell it? What else did they throw in there without considering what would leach through the soil to the river that was only feet away? Did they donate the hardwood flooring to someone? Anyone? Did they keep anything to re-use? I don't know the answers to that so I can't condemn them without knowing.

I'm going to stop now because I realize that this post is rambling about things which maybe matter only to my heart and not to you. And in the manner of my heart, it's jumping from point to point with seemingly no point whatsoever. My thoughts about this are scattered and upset. Sorry about that. I'll be better later. I do wish I could find more pictures of the house though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't believe they tore down the house. It was beautiful, even if it was 70's shag. I have great memories of that house. I'm totally for your rant.