Sunday, June 5, 2011
Goodbye to a House
The Husband handed over the keys today to his childhood home. It has been in the family for the past 56 years. That's a long time. The Husband ran the vacuum, swept the floors one last time, and then turned off the lights. As we emptied out the contents of the house this past week, nearly every member of the family made their way over there to say their own goodbyes.
We originally thought that the house on Bresslyn Road would be torn down, for the area of Nashville where the house resides is one of those neighborhoods sought out by builders for its level lots and towering mature trees. If the sale had been made as originally planned, the original bricks and mortar that defined this humble 1950's brick ranch house would have come tumbling down to make way for some huge edifice that would likely be priced well over a million dollars. The family had resigned the house to this fate, but the economy intervened. Now the house will be updated, remodeled, walls here and there removed and the back stretched out to accommodate what buyers demand these days: a bona fide master suite. So it makes me and The Husband happy to think that once again there will be meals served in the kitchen; once again there will be laughter ringing through the house and maybe even children running down the hallways or throwing balls in the backyard.
I was not there for all of it. I did not grow up with my husband or watch him peering through the fence that ringed the adjacent backyards to watch the older boys playing catch. I was not there when he and his sisters learned to ride their bikes, bring their friends over to spend the night or play kick-the-can with the next-door-neighbor Collins kids.
I came on the scene thirty-nine years ago. I missed a lot but you can bet I made it to innumerable dinners prepared by my mother-in-law, a very fine old fashioned Southern cook in her own right. In fact it was she who patiently helped me learn my way around the kitchen as a new bride who could barely boil water. I still use her recipes for chess pie, fudge pie, and caramel pie (do you see a theme here?) When our birthdays rolled around she prepared each person his or her own birthday dinner replete with prime rib, twice-baked potatoes, salad, and green beans along with a choice of either chocolate cake or caramel cake for dessert. I am literally smacking my lips at the memory!
At Christmas Nanny and Pappy hosted the family breakfast where she served her famous Turkey Hash, and once the grandchildren arrived, each Easter we gathered for a traditional Easter egg hunt followed by a pizza supper. There were games of Parcheesi and Sorry, lots of card games, and a host of Disney movies to watch. There was an old swing set that saw a lot of action and a backyard where Pappy tossed lots of balls to the grandchildren. I remembered that my children first discovered outdoor camping sleeping in a tent they had pitched in Nanny and Pappy's backyard followed by a trip to Shoney's for breakfast!
Bresslyn Road houses a lifetime of memories for my husband and his sisters. Not all of it was happy or easy because life always brings the bitter with the sweet, but the prevailing sense that my husband carries away today is a sense of gratitude for the two parents who lived there, for it was they who made the house at Bresslyn Road into a home. There my husband had two parents who loved him, who caught him when he tried to sneak out, who faithfully taught him right from wrong, and trained him up to be the man he is today.
Thank you, Nanny and Pappy for the memories. Words cannot convey all that you meant to us. We still miss you. Thank you, house at Bresslyn Road, for being a shelter from the storm, a haven in times of trouble, and a good home for the White family. You did a good job, no doubt about it. You did very well, indeed.