Fasting Forward
COVID Chronicles, Part 2

A Hard Chapter to Close

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After months of sorting through, cleaning out, divvying up, and selling the accumulation of 63 years of living in the same house, on Monday we finally closed on the sale of Mama's house.

Our County Line homestead.  The only home I ever knew until I became an adult, and even after that it was the place we all came back to when we wanted to be together.

The childhood homeplace of me and my 3 siblings.  Sold. 

We knew it was time and yet it's still a hard chapter to close.

 

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Just before the closing, I made one last nostalgic trip to walk around, reminisce, and take a few parting photos of this homeplace so dear to all of our hearts.  The cloudiness of the day mirrored my mood as I walked these very familiar acres one more time...

 

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How many countless hours did we spend on this wonderful front porch, swinging on the porch swing, singing and talking, jumping off the ledges onto the ground, playing all sorts of games?....


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Even the cement steps bring back memories of games of school, photo line-ups, playing with the family dog Lady, various cats, and goat Gruff.

One of the few times I saw Dad cry as a child was when a baby kitten got caught in the gap between the cement steps and the porch...Dad did his best to rescue it but couldn't.  He had such a soft heart inside that big tough Marine exterior...

I'm sure Barb will remember the time I tied her hands behind her back and she banged up her chin trying to hop up the steps like that.  We have very different versions of exactly how that story unfolded, but we both do agree that she did scrape up her chin.

 

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The back porch was added after we left home, but I enjoyed many cups of coffee as an adult chatting and laughing with Mama and Dad on that porch.  

And many memories of hanging clothes out to dry on that clothesline.  I also, more than once, had the breath knocked out of me running to grab and swing on those end posts only to miss my hold and fall flat on my back on the ground.  But oh, that delicious smell of going to bed under freshly-laundered and air-dried sheets!  Nothing like it!


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This is where the big garden was when I was a child.  Mama and Dad were not great gardeners and the weeds always got ahead of them, but Mama always managed to raise delicious tomatoes, green beans, and sweet corn.

And strawberries.  We always had a strawberry patch.  Oh how us kids hated picking those strawberries, but we sure did LOVE those berries on top of Mama's hot homemade biscuits and smothered with milk!


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This was a fenced pasture when I was growing up.  Dad loved raising animals.  Over the years he nearly always had something grazing out there...our two ponies, calves for Mark's 4-H and for beef, Maria's goat, beehives (although they don't typically "graze"...lol) and a few runty pigs.  Of course, it seemed something was always getting out and had to be rounded up.


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Back in the very corner was our get-away spot.  My sisters and I would take a blanket for the ground and snacks (of course!) back there for our own little picnic.  Years ago as a child, I dug up some iris bulbs from the yard and planted them back here.  All these years later, they still bloom...a random patch of iris flowers back where no one every goes any more.

 

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We always called the "the little tree."  When the farmer next door was burning the grass off his field to clear it for planting, my sister Barbara and neighbor boy David rescued this volunteer pine tree before the fire reached it when the tree was just a couple of feet tall.  It grew to be quite homely and wonky-shaped (if I'd have been Mama and Dad I would have cut it down long ago), but now I'm glad they preserved it for the memories it holds for us all.


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They haven't popped up yet, but in a few weeks there will be tulips blooming here that were planted even before Mama and Dad moved in.  They've been there for as long as I've lived...random colors of yellow, pink, white, and red making their annual spring appearance for us to enjoy.  I remember picking them one time and Mama was so mad about that.  Still to this day I feel just a tad bit guilty picking flowers from outside (although Kim encourages it and does it all the time!)...childhood experiences surely do shape our souls.


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Peony bushes along the front driveway...these are older than me too.  They've always been there, faithfully showing their luscious blooms every May.

 


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This maple tree was planted after I left home (yes, I'm THAT old!).  When I was growing up, there was a pair of willow trees in the middle of that yard that we played on, lots of shade underneath and perfect limbs for climbing.  But as you know, willows are messy trees...we were constantly having to pick up branches so Dad could mow.  When the willows started breaking down, Mama and Dad planted a couple of maples and eventually cut down the willows.  What a beautiful maple this has grown to be!  


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The 2 barns were added after we left home.  But Dad was so proud of them!  When we lived there, an old barn with a hayloft stood where this little barn is now, and that foundation was a rickety shed we called the Honey House.

 

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Before I turned over my set of keys, one last peek inside....


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Dad and Mama added this laundry room and extra bathroom after we left home.  When we were kids, Mama did our laundry...

 

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...down here.  In the basement.  She carried the baskets full of laundry for our family of 6 up and down these cement steps...

 


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Her washer sat right there where those metal support posts are.  


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And in the winter or rainy days when she couldn't use the outdoor clothesline, she hung up our clothes on these clotheslines in the basement.  I was a teenager before she finally got a dryer.  We thought we were rich then!

This door back in the corner was always the creepiest place of all.  (Still is...)  That's where the fuel oil tank is, but we always imagined that would be the perfect spot for hiding the evidence of some sort of sordid crime...not a place you'd want to get locked into!


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About once a year, the threat of tornadoes would force us into the basement for awhile.  Trust me...it looks much better now (cleaned up for the sale!) than it did when we were kids.  There were always vermin running around down there.  My siblings and I always felt we'd rather face the tornado than go down in the basement...



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Mama's kitchen...again remodeled after we left home and much different than our childhood kitchen.

 

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But the same view, always providing a gorgeous sunset.  Mama loved looking out her window while she did the dishes.  I'm the same way...I have to have a window in front of my kitchen sink!


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A wider view from the kitchen...Mama could keep a pretty good eye on us from her vantage point.  One of the 4 of us was nearly always in her sight, and she could keep tabs on what was going on.



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Mama's kitchen table sat under that light.  Life in our house always revolved around the kitchen, and more specifically the kitchen table. 

This was the last spot I sat with Dad before we took him away from his home for good.  We sat at the table drinking coffee and eating cookies together on a fateful day in February 2015, waiting for Mama to come home from a meeting, while neither of us had any inkling what the next few hours/days/weeks would bring.  Daddy went to Heaven just 4 months later.  A bittersweet memory...but I cherish that last coffee session we had.

 

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Right off the kitchen was what we called the dining room.  Although we never dined in there...  

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...it still had a built-in cabinet we called the buffet.  Mama must've had grand notions when she moved into the house!  The buffet held the telephone and was a catch-all cabinet.  As far as I know, the only food that was ever on it was candy she tried to move out of our reach.

Those 4 glass knobs on the buffet drawers was where we hung our stockings each Christmas, with the Christmas tree in front of that window.  Santa never failed to leave a small stash of gifts under each stocking on Christmas morning.

 

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In the other corner of the dining room was a special spot.  We all loved it, but Maria especially claimed this place.  The register blew warm air directly from the furnace and we'd love standing over it in our nightgowns and letting that toasty air billow them out and warm us up.  Maria would even take a pillow and blanket and lay over the register...she had her own little cozy spot!


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The arched doorway led from the dining room into the living room.  I remember well when Mama and her best friend Barbara wallpapered these rooms.  Mama made all the draperies herself.

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The two adjoining rooms had these beautiful antique lights.  I still love them!

 

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But only one of the originals is left...

 

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It was not a happy family moment the day Mark broke one of them throwing things in the house.  Mama and Dad searched for a replacement but this is the best they could do.  Not bad, but not as beautiful as the original.

 

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Beyond the living room was what started out as a toy room, morphed into my bedroom as a teenager, then it was Mama's sewing room, and in their later years Mama and Dad moved their bedroom here from upstairs.


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We called this the hall closet.

Yep...the original wallpaper is still there.


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This is what we called the hallway.  Our original bathroom is still in the same place, although it looks quite different than it did when we were growing up.  The door is the same one, though, that Barbara slammed on toddler Mark's fingers, smashing them flat.  He survived.  Mark also survived after I tossed him in the air (I was about 12 years old) in the dining room about that same time and dropped him on the floor (I meant to catch him, I really did).  Mark grew up to be a tough Marine...us girls take credit for making him so tough!


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The bathroom is twice the size it was when I was a child.  We had no shower...only a tub.


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Yep that's me...I unsuccessfully tried to get out of the photo...

 

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Up the stairs...again, they've had a major facelift over the years.  Back in the day they were bare wood and no railing...

 

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I've always loved this room!  For awhile all 3 of us girls had this room together, then I moved out and back in the '70s Barbara and Maria jumped on the mod bandwagon and redecorated this room in orange and yellow!  After they left home, it became an extra bedroom and then when Mark married Alli, Mama re-wallpapered and fixed it up for them to stay in when they visited from out-of-state.  It became known as Alli's room...even though Alli never lived there...hmmm....how did that happen?


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The closet for Alli's room.  Original paint job.  "Shelving" courtesy of Dana Corporation's throw-aways when they closed the factory.


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Original light is still in Alli's room.  It did not fit with the orange and yellow color scheme...


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I just love the charm of many of the old fixtures in that house...



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Light switch.  I'm very sure it would not meet standard code...

 

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For awhile, this was my bedroom.  It became Mark's bedroom and then later Mama's sewing room.


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I still LOVE this charming little door into the closet!


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Just a peek into the closet where we held our Clacky-Wacky Club meetings.  We had a very exclusive private membership...Barbara, Maria, and me.


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Such a great view from this window and wonderful lighting for Mama's sewing machine...

 

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The bedroom at the front of the house was always Mama and Dad's room, until they moved downstairs in their later years.


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No heat upstairs, except what came up through a couple of floor registers.  As kids, we'd have fun dropping things through them, or spying on the people below.


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This is the first time I've ever seen this closet empty...

 

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Those were the 3 bedrooms upstairs.  It was VERY COLD up there in the wintertime, as they would close the door downstairs to preserve the heat for the main living space.  Lots of heavy quilts on our beds!

At the top of the stairs there was a folding gate for safety, although I'm not sure it would have been strong enough to prevent a fall.  We were not allowed to open the gate and go downstairs...only Mama and Dad were allowed to open the gate.  (On second thought, it probably wasn't for safety at all but more for crowd control...)  On Christmas morning, all 4 of us would jockey for position at the gate so we could be the first downstairs to see what Santa brought.  Precious memories!


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And there are those (not naming any names) who defied the rules and straddled the stairs walking along those ledges.  Thankfully no one ever fell (that I knew about).


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Another quaint light switch at the bottom of the stairs, complete with the grime of grubby children's hands...


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The aforementioned register from below...love the little birdie design in the metal....

 

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I know it's "just" a house...but so many years of memories revolve around this 4 acres of property on the County Line Road.


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I am grateful that a young couple has purchased it, to make memories of their own and give this old house the loving care it needs.


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Farewell, our childhood home.  The memories live on...what a wonderful place to grow up!


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We all know the time has come to move on.

But it's a hard chapter to close.

 

Comments

Marilyn Witt

Terry, I enjoyed so much reading your memories of growing up in this house. So much of it was the same as mine. Loved our basement. It was a little larger. We hade electric trains, a ping-pong table, tricycles, wagon, scooter. and more down there. as well as Mother's washer and clothesline. At one time even a coal bin. Grew up on a farm with lots of room. I loved the bird grate. I think I would have had to keep that and framed it to keep forever. But, probably not, was part of the house. Thanks for sharing. Marilyn

Kyler

My favorite memories: playing checkers with Grandpa in the living room on the coffee table, making donuts and fried pies with Grandma, and Thanksgiving walks with hedge apple bowling.

Thanks for sharing this.

Emily

Love the memories of going there and hanging with Grandma and Grandpa while you got your hair done, sleeping over while you and dad were on trips, making donuts and fried apple pies, and spending many holidays there! Many great memories of my childhood were made there too!

Bobby Marie

What a fun walk through! I there are a lot of memories there for me and Kathy too.

Natalie Sue Myers

Great story, Terry. So many memories.❤️❤️

Lisa

Oh, Terry. What a wonderful story. That's all I can say :) hugs to all of you.

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