My Great-Grandparents’ house always looked beautiful, surrounded by its own garden. The front door of the house was connected with the yard by a large comfortable porch. There was a large set of concrete and stone steps from the porch leading to the huge yard. Large fields of corn, maintained by a neighbor farmer, bordered that yard. The strength of the house was seen in the massive stone foundation. I remember spending warm afternoons, in the arms of my great grandmother, on the porch’s swing.
The rusty numbers of the house, nailed tightly aside the front door, had lost the ability of reminding us of the house number, as the ravages of time and moisture had eaten it away. But the rust had added character and stability to the old house. It made one aware that though the little things may pass, the house would always be there.
The squeaky floorboards of the sun porch held amazement to my young ears. It was fun to rock back and forth and hear the strains of the nails against the wood possibly placed there by my Uncle Bill or Paul during a repair effort many years before.
When I see the house now, I am amazed by its size. When I was younger, it seemed so much larger. The stateliness (my great grandfather would probably not approve of that word) seems lost to the multiple owners since our absence. When it was the home of the Wrights it seemed a much prouder home.
I often wondered why my great grandparents chose to give the home to my parents. What made them choose my father over others obviously better suited to be guardians of their legacy? Maybe I romanticize the dedication of William Wright, and his son’s and daughter, to the land he worked hard to keep for his family.
They survived the Depression and a World War living on that land. They also made it through the mental and physical abuse issued by my great grandmother to her children and husband, as well as the divorce and remarriage of the elder Wrights, also brought on by her indignities.
In contrast, the clearest memories I have of my early childhood in the house is sitting on my great grandmother’s lap and being told stories of her childhood. The stories are like little snapshots inside my mind of simpler times and the dreams of a little girl growing up in the last part of the 19th century. I can’t remember anything about my great grandfather other than his soft-spoken voice. He died not quite a month after my first birthday. I do know my great grandmother missed him deeply. She told me many, many times.
This house is somehow overwhelming and filled with the nostalgia of history. Its spaces filled with heartache and happiness. The yard where my father rode his tricycle and my aunt played with her kitten is the same place my cousin and I met to walk to Grandma’s for afternoon tea parties and in 1957 a terrible storm tore the branches from a huge tree. It is the place where Wright’s Dairy was founded and Grandma married my grandfather Barney.
It is our family home … it is the place, even now, I feel drawn to. Its image and its history will forever be a deeply etched in my mind.