commentary

Selling the farm

It’s funny how we can develop attachments to inanimate objects; I feel bad trading in a car. I can’t imagine selling a home you’ve lived in for 48 years, but that is exactly what my parents are doing; they are literally selling the farm.

Farmstead – 1804

For so many reasons I am happy for my parents; at 85 years-old, they are now ready to relieve themselves of taking care of such a large property. My mother, who has definitely formed attachments to belongings in the house, is actually finding freedom in the decluttering process, and my dad, well he’s already ordered the dumpster. For both my parents, I think a move will refresh them; they’ll be able to settle into a smaller home, explore a new area, and most importantly, they will be able to focus on their time together.

But, for so many reasons I am sad; for me that is. Every time I go “home,” I see ghosts from the past. Inside the house I see dad in his glory making popovers for Christmas brunch, mom folding clothes while watching her favorite soap, laughing with my gram on the porch swing as she entertained me with tales from her youth, and playing board games on the front porch with my little sister.

Dad

Outside, I see my older sister’s boyfriend and my brother blowing up the giant bee’s nest on the corner of the barn with an M-80 attached to a hoe (not a good idea), I see my dad working in his enormous vegetable garden, my mom riding her horse in the back field, my sisters and me ice skating in the backyard, and one of my favorite memories; trudging through the stream that ran down the back mountain slope, all by myself.

A lot of life has been lived in the old farmhouse; not only by my immediate family growing up, but by countless others who have visited for holidays, church picnics, weddings, and so the list goes on and on. With the sale of the farm eminent, I have realized that my memories, although important to me, are actually inconsequential. I can’t stop my parents from selling, nor should I. I can’t be upset with them for selling, for one reason in particular – it really was never my house.

I was 10 years-old when we moved to the farm, and I didn’t legitimately move out until I got married at 23 years-old, so when you do the math, I really only spent thirteen years there. Sure, I visited my parents over the past 34 years, so I have been able to relive countless memories and make new ones over that time, but it really never was my house; it was my parent’s house…it was their dream.

Summer 1983

My parents were a mere 37 years-old when they bought the nine -acre lot with the picturesque farmhouse and red barns. They moved their four kids into a new town, and into an old house that needed refurbishing, but they saw potential. When you buy a true farmhouse you won’t find numerous bathrooms, open concept rooms, or even kitchen cabinets; changing all of that takes time and money. So, my parents, knowing they needed to upgrade so many things, made a priority list, and the first thing they decided to do was put in an in-ground swimming pool. The remodeling would wait; they put all of their efforts into making sure their children were happy. We were kids living on a farm with an in-ground pool; we didn’t care about the upgrades, but we sure did appreciate them later.

In the 48 years my parents have lived on the farm, they have watched their four children, twelve grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and numerous extended family build memories at their home. They have served countless holiday meals, worked on school projects, hauled bales of hay into the loft, loaded the car for trips to the lake, sat on the front porch swing, raised horses and pigs and sheep, and watched every one of us enjoy that beautiful pool.

Late Winter 1984

They may have bought the home for the family, but they are the ones who would truly call it home for so many years after the kids left. Even amidst the chaos of raising a family, my parents still had times when they were alone; treasured moments when it was just the two of them whispering in bed, sharing a meal, taking a walk down the back country road. They have so many memories of their time in that house, more than I could ever imagine.

My parent’s union started a family. They bought an old farm house for that family, and they shared it unselfishly with all of their children and so many more, but in the end, it wasn’t the children that made the house a home; it was them…it’s always been them.

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