"15 Years Ago . . ."

I like to head back to my old blog at Yahoo 360 that I started back in 2006 from time to time. I ran across one post that I thought I would post o'er here. It's called "15 Years Ago". Hope you take the time to read . . .

15 years ago I moved, at the age of 15, from the place I was born and raised, R.R. #1 Box 317. A place that will always be my "home". A place that will forever hold the most amazing memories growing up. A place where I had so many "firsts". A place I will never forget.

My dad was a farmer. He had some really great years of farming and some really bad ones as well. Even though there were more good years than bad, it was those few bad years that brought our lives on the farm, under. We lived through a couple intensely straining years of droughts, making us next to no money, and it was those years that made us unable to thrive there any longer. I can still remember vividly the moment dad sat us down in the living room as a family to tell us the news that we had to give up the farm, and that dad had to find a new job and most likely we'd be moving far away. Until that point in my life, the experience of moving was the hardest thing I had faced I think because it was the farthest thing from my mind. Being an emotionally attached person to things and memories (like my mom), it was a really difficult experience. One that is pretty cemented in my heart and soul. One that will probably always have an impact on me. I learned without certainty, where my heart would reside forever. I absolutely loved the farm and those memories are forever cherished.

Tonight I had a family picture session in Argenta, my hometown. Afterwards I decided since I didn't have my kids with me, that I'd go down memory lane. I drove by my old high school. Well, what was left of it. Most of it, but the old gym, has been torn down and rebuilt. I hadn't seen it yet, and it was a big shocker to see it totally revamped like it is. It's really really nice. The 2-year wait was definitely worth it for the kids and teachers that are there now. The hardest thing for me, again, are the memories that I have in those buildings. My grandma and grandpa went to school there. They met there. Neil and I met there. There's a lot of ancestory in those buildings. I'm very proud of that. Not many these days can say they went to the same school that their grandparents (and other family members) did.

After going by the school, I decided to drive by Neil's old house, and then my old house. I stopped at the end of the lane to my old farm house and sat there, thinking, should I just drive on up? Knowing that the man who lived there died a few months ago, I went up the quarter-mile lane. I'm really glad I did.

The corn was high so I couldn't see the house till I drove the whole 1/4 mile. When I first saw the house I was in disbelief. I expected to see it how I left it 15 years ago. It was still the same house, but it was extremely run down. A few of the barns were gone, many of the trees were gone, the bridge over the creek was gone, the pump house was gone, lots of the landscaping was gone. It didn't look very good at all. I got out of my car and started taking pictures of things that I wanted to remember visually. So I walked around the entire farm. It took me about 45 minutes, but it was perfect. Just me and my camera, walking around the place I once ran around as a naive little girl.

I saw the old basketball hoop that my dad put up for Chris and I. The old pumps were all still there in various places. The sidewalks were the same, as well as the big rock in the front yard that my dad found many many years ago. My tree, which was once a seedling in 4th grade, was there and bigger than I had ever imagined. I guess that's what happens when you see it as a tree that's now 21 years old. I saw the old tree house and the steps leading up to it. They just hung from a single nail. I could not believe those were still there. I peeked into the machine shed and saw dad's old work bench. I also peeked into the house itself and saw our old wood-burning stove that Chris and I went with dad to get when we were tots. The kettle was still on the top of it. I also saw the stairs leading up to my bedroom and the front porch with the same old wood door. That porch is where I first saw my first bike, where I stood with my pumpkins that I called "bumpkin" at 1-1/2 years old, where I housed my kittens when it stormed. Oh the memories.

The house is not lived in. And the owner, the same one who owned it when we lived there, is in his 90's. I wonder what is going to happen to it? Neil and I have on occasion talked about it, wondering if it's worth looking into buying perhaps? Nothing in the house is really salvagable, it's that run down. But the structure is probably good. I would be tickled to death if that's something we could do. I guess it doesn't hurt to check into it. Through the tears I thought to myself this evening how amazing it would be to raise my own kids there. Maybe just maybe this is why I went out there? To discover that "this" is where we are meant to be?

Anyhow, I just had to share my little 45 minute experience. Even if I never ever go back there again, I feel at peace now. I've always had a hard time dealing with the move - we literally auctioned 15+ years of our family's life away - and I never ever thought I'd go back. But going back was like saying goodbye one last time. And I felt really good doing it this time.

The reason why I posted this is that our farm house has finally been put on the market. My mom asked me this past weekend if I wanted to go with my dad to the open house. (She couldn't even fathom thinking about going.) At first I thought I wanted to go . . . to go with dad and see it with him. But then I thought about it and decided not to. I already made my peace. I don't need to see it again looking as sad as it is now. I don't remember it as a sad place but as a very happy one. I want to continue remembering it like that. But I did want dad to be able to go so that he could make some peace with it, too. I know that the move was probably harder on him than anyone, he just never expressed that. I have a feeling whoever buys the house and the out-buildings, that they will tear the house down. I think that will be one of the hardest days of my life when I hear that it's no longer there. I wish it were us buying it and making it live-able, but we just can't. Not at this time in our lives.

It just amazes me as I grow older, how things change like they do. When you are younger, you never anticipate change ever happening. I don't even think as a child I knew what change was. You don't see yourself ever growing older and you don't see memories ever fading. Life. It's a confusing crazy ever-changing thing. But a good thing.

This is me in front of the house on the farm. * sob *


SuperMom said...

It's amazing how things like a building or a plot of land can bind you to it, isn't it? I feel exactly the same way about the house in which I grew up; it's hard to see them change when in your heart and head you still see them in the unflawed, loving place you always remember.

Alexis Jacobs said...

Change and peace is a hard thing to accept sometimes. But remember memories don't reside in a building. They reside in your heart. ((hugs))

Johanna said...

My mom grew up on a farm too. After her mom died and her dad got remarried (when my mom was 12) they lived there for a little while longer but then they moved into "town". The only memories my mom have of her mom were in that house. It meant a lot to her. A few years ago it was sold again and torn down. Now there is a crappy little trailer like house on it. It makes her so sad. But, as Alexis said, the memories are in your heart. Her dad had arial pictures taken of the farm when they all still lived there. They are so neat. My mom has a HUGE poster sized copied framed. That has hung i our family room all of my life. It moves around as they remodel or move to another home, but it is always there. I don't have to tell you how powerful pictures are.

Chel said...

I grew up in a small town, and my grandparents, parents, and brother (with his family now) all still live there. (Obviously, I'm the black sheep for leaving.) And it really is wonderful to have that kind of continuity.

And yet, I've already moved my children far from their home to build a new home in another state, and neither of them are even 10 yet. I hope that learning how to adapt and move and change and grow at a young age while still having a nurturing home will guide them to be stronger as grownups.

You know... stronger than their mama who still longs for home some days. :)

Aimee said...

What a touching story Val. I am glad that you have been able to make peace with the farm, and I pray that your Mom and Dad will be able to also. I love the pic of you. If I didn't know better, I would think it was Maia!!