Let me apologize upfront for the lack of pictures in this post. I should have taken pictures today ... but I didn't. I also apologize for the length of the post. I'm pregnant and emotional and overly reminiscent tonight.
Today, Mom, Caroline, Lucy & I went out to The Farm. The Farm is what we've taken to calling my grandparents' house here in Tennessee (the girls and I are visiting this week). My grandfather died in 2005, at age 96. A couple years ago, my parents moved here from Florida, and lived at The Farm for a year. It was really fun to bring Caroline back to my grandparents' house, which was then her grandparents' home.
So, as I said, they lived there for a year, until I found for them the perfect house in town. (Grandpa's farm is on the outskirts of town, with 20 acres.) They love old houses, cabins, bungalows. I found a log bungalow, right downtown. I guilt-tripped my mom for months before they FINALLY went to look at it ... and promptly fell in love. Once they moved, though, I never went back to The Farm. It's been over two years, I've been to Tennessee probably six times per year, and I've never been back. I think it seemed too sad.
Well, today, I went back. Mom needed to go over there, and so we went with her. Caroline and I looked around the cabin that's there on the property (where various family members, including my parents, are storing furniture and miscellany that they may or may not want in the future), and then we decided to go through the house. I love that house. It's a brick cape cod that is just FULL of memories. Though there aren't a whole lot of things I like about it (on the inside) aesthetically, I love that house.
It was heart-breaking to go inside. No one is living there, but the house hasn't been cleaned out. Some of my parents' stuff is still in there, plus there's a lot of stuff upstairs that's been there since my grandmother died in 1988 (or was it 1987?). There's ivy growing over the kitchen windows, so what used to be a bright room is now shady, with weirdly-filtered light. There are dead ladybugs everywhere, and cobwebs, and imprints in the carpet where furniture used to be. A pipe burst in what was my grandmother's sewing room but later became a laundry room, so the hardwood floors are a bit ripply/buckled.
I found my wedding dress in a closet upstairs, along with discarded clothing. That dress has been missing for years, and once, when my parents came to visit, they brought me "my dress"; except that when I unzipped the garment bag, it wasn't my dress, but was instead some of my dad's vestments (he's an Anglican priest). I just happened to find it today in a closet up there.
The lane leading back to the house is, I don't know, long. Let's say 1/3 of a mile. It used to be lined with trees, and honeysuckle grew on the fences. Now it's all overgrown, trees have fallen and lie where they fell, the grass is unmowed, nothing's been pruned. The fences are in disrepair and hang heavy with vines (mostly blackberries, but wildly unpruned ones). It seems to me that whipping that place back into shape would be a full-time job, and then some.
I was feeling positively glum about all of this, how such a happy, joyful home could become so forgotten and uncared for. It was good to have Caroline with me, exclaiming over all the positives. When we came back through the kitchen as we were leaving, she announced, "Nice kitchen, Momma!" I don't know what she saw in the green linoleum, ancient & dirty appliances, ragged curtains, etc., but I'm hoping she saw the beauty my grandmother saw in the room she loved so much, so long ago.
I want someone to live in that house and love it and take care of it and restore it to how it was. My grandmother was a good housekeeper, and the house used to just shine. The "grounds" were well cared-for. There was a pool, and fruit trees. I guess I want somebody to love it like we all loved it. But nobody wants to take it on. It belongs to the four kids (my dad, and his three siblings), and none of them need a house with twenty acres. And none of the grandchildren (I assume) can afford it.
I'm trying hard to not cry like a baby about it.