It’s the front porch where we would sit and watch neighbors pass; where friends would stop by and visit; where we would share the news of great grandbabies to be born and share tears of worry for loved ones.
It’s the old farmhouse kitchen sink, where my toddler self would once fit to have my hair washed by my grandma, while I studied the hanging basket to determine where she had moved the tiny ceramic bird this time – her ploy to keep me entertained. It worked.
It’s the oven where I learned not to grab a hot corndog by the wooden handle with no oven mitt.
It’s the kitchen table around which we enjoyed her “famous” homemade angel food cake, meat loaf and homemade noodles.
It’s the front door that only friends and family knew the combination to enter: wriggle the doorknob, turn the key, wriggle the doorknob again, and enter. And the key that was hidden not-so-secretly in a fake rock on the front porch.
It’s the front sidewalk that dipped and jutted out from overgrown tree roots – and the cause of many a scuffed knee in childhood and scar 41 years later.
It’s the storm door that was broken by slamming onto my trombone case in middle school, and the scar on my ring finger from the broken glass. (Yes, I have a lot of scars. I’m clumsy. What can I say?)
It’s the laughter, the love, the heartfelt hugs and memories. It’s my grandma’s house.
It’s my grandma’s house. And it is no longer hers.
My grandma has taken care of others and herself for 92 years. She’s carried food to the fields. She’s sat ringside at many a cattle show, cheering on her son and grandkids and recently, her great grandson. And in later years, she cared for my dad, a proud cattleman who didn’t think he needed the help, but most certainly did.
But her body has tired a bit, and she’s most definitely earned the right to have others take care of her for a change. Last April, she moved into the assisted living attached to the nursing home where my dad resides.
It wasn’t an easy choice. It wasn’t one that any of us necessarily wanted. But she’s being cared for – and the assisted living staff sure seems to love her. And we know that should she need someone, there’s always help a button-push away.
With that move came the difficult decision to sell her home – the home she and my grandpa shared for 41 years. When I was born, they left the house on the farm and moved to town, so that my brother and I could be raised in the Couch family homestead with our parents. That farmhouse was torn down about 20 years ago; and grandma’s home in town became “home” for me and my brother.
The new owner has plans to make some much-needed renovations. I have no doubt the home will see the new life its needed for a bit – and it will be loved for another generation.
But it’s still hard. Really hard, if I’m honest.
I’m willing to bet most of us have that one place we call “home.” It may be on the home farm; it may be in a suburban area. But you know it. And you know the emotion it brings.
This experience has really caused me to think – what am I doing to make our house “home” for our kids? What memories will they carry with them into adulthood?
Now, more than ever, I’m determined to keep creating those moments with them. Carving the pumpkins in the fall; dying the eggs in the spring. Carrying meals out to the barn on the late nights of cattle work. Even if it’s embarrassing to our teenager. Even if they roll their eyes at the time.
We can all make our houses “home.” And I’m certain, our children will carry those memories with them for a lifetime – even if the structure is no longer there.
This post was originally published in the December 2018 issue of Hereford World magazine.