Bringin’ Down da House.

This is the house my parents built.

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It’s where I grew up.

The above picture was taken in the early 70’s, before any landscaping, or tanks (ponds), or fences, etc.

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This one, above, was taken in the 80’s, back when we had a white van that was perfect for driving lots of family members to away Baylor football games.

Do you see all the cracks on the outer surface of the stucco? Shifting ground and a poor foundation made for many cracks and repairs over the years…something my parents never were able to properly remedy.

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Many wonderful memories are held in the walls of that house. It was my home from 2nd grade through high school.

It was where I brought my boys to see their grandparents, to breathe clean air and run with abandonment…to view a lot less concrete.

Fast forward past many years of shifting ground, lots of foundation repairs, and the deaths of both of my parents and what you get is a house that should no longer be standing.

Believe me when I say, it needed to come down.

So, this past Fall, my sister, husband and I had been working, feverishly, for 4-6 weeks, cleaning out 50-plus years of memories, of stuff.

Oh, the stuff.

Example:

My childhood bedroom had not changed in decades! Cheerleader uniforms, camp t-shirts, dried Homecoming mums, scrapbooks, music theory medals, old love letters, college notebooks and projects…all still in my bedroom…all in exactly the same place I had put them, so many years ago. I could walk into that room and be instantly thrown back in time…1970…1982…1989….Hours could pass as I reminisced, sorting through the wonderful memories.

Now, my stuff, along with all of my parents’ stuff and all of my sister’s stuff had to find a new home, whether that meant my house, my sister’s house, the dump, or Caritas (a local donation and distribution center).

(We tried to donate as much as we could, but some things just weren’t good enough to pass off as “gently used.”)

(People who are in need of your used stuff deserve good used stuff, not crappy used stuff, in my opinion.)

By the time we were done purging, we were utterly sick of the house.

We were worn out…emotionally and physically.

We had been making important decisions about where things should go, daily, for weeks on end, and our brains and bodies were exhausted.

So, as the day approached for the demolition to begin, we rejoiced. It was time, by golly!

Good riddance, old, dirty, falling apart house!

Then.

The day arrived.

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It was a nice, cool morning. The sun was shining. I had my camera. Our friends brought kolaches and fried pies.

It was a house demolition PAR-TAY!

My sister and I even posed in front of the house for a picture to commemorate the day. We were smiling and laughing.

Just as the excavator revved its engine, my sister and I moved away from the house and took our appointed positions to get the best videos and photographs.

We were ready.

Surprisingly, though, for me, the first swing and crunch of the claw into the stucco, wood and glass was like a punch in the stomach.

I was not as prepared for this as I thought.

In less than five minutes, my parents’ bedroom was gone from the house.

Gone.

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Surreal is a good word.

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While I know a house does not make a home and a building is only temporary, watching it being destroyed so seemingly carelessly, no, violently! was upsetting.

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I wonder if this is how someone feels when they lose their house to a fire or a hurricane?

Even though we got all our stuff out of the house, it still hurt to watch it disappear before our eyes.

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Isn’t that crazy? There was a whole house there!

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And, the left-over pile consisted of small, relatively tiny parts when it was all said and done.

Eventually, the bulldozer, and skid-steer, began the process of removing the rubble.

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So fast…

It’s amazing to think that something that took months to design and build, years to make and hold memories, took mere minutes to destroy.

 

(There’s a life lesson in that, y’all…how precious the things and people we spend time building up, can so quickly and easily be torn down…and it doesn’t take a bulldozer…just an untamed tongue wielding words and anger…)

 

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Now, the space is cleared and wide open.

Empty.

As if nothing was ever there.

Again, surreal.

Yet, there was something there.

It was a home.

A home full of love, dysfunction, dinners around the table, arguments, important decision making, tears, laughter.

…imperfect people who called themselves family trying as hard as they could to do the very best they could.

…and many good, good memories.

Goodbye big house, with the red roof, on the hill.

You were well loved.

E.

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. shellychetty2014

    Such a beautiful tribute to a home that held so many memories.

    A number of years ago, we sold my grandparents house and the land that it was on. It, too, had to go. We loved it, but the taxes on a property we could only occasionally enjoy had become a burden, even when spread among all the family members. We knew that the buyer would tear down the house, which made me a little bit sad, but had no idea that he would destroy all of the acreage too. I looked up the property on Google Maps one day, only to see that the buyer had bulldozed a bluff and torn down the gorgeous Austin-stone staircase that my dad had built by hand leading from the house down to the lake property. He knocked down the tree that held my wooden swing. He plowed under the field where we took bluebonnet pictures every year. Seeing the “progress” was a huge gut-punch. . That property embraced and shaped our family, our cousins, and our second cousins from the early 1930’s for more than 70 years, and for that, I am very very grateful. I realized that even if I tried to drive by to relive some of those memories or to sit on the dock, that it simply is no longer there. It was harder than I expected to let go of the place where we once laughed, ran barefoot, and rode around on an old red tractor or on a secondhand motorized mini-bike, where we caught fish with a cane pole and swam in icy water. Such a place is no longer.

    The buyer is building himself a huge monstrosity of a house with none of the rustic charm we treasured. . I’m sure it’s complete by now. I won’t look it up again or go back. I hope it brings him at least a fraction of the joyful memories that it did for us.

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