Do you ever look at abandoned property and wonder about them? One of the things I first noticed is that when a property is abandoned, how quickly it deteriorates. It seems like if there are people living in a dwelling, even if they are not good at upkeep, the dwelling seems to be standing okay (mostly).
As my husband and I travel around the country, I tend to notice abandoned homes. I take photos of many of them. I see these abandoned buildings, and they are collapsing around itself. I wonder what was the life that went on in these rooms. Was it a family with children who ran around the home, playing, laughing, cuddling with their parents? Who lived there? What were their lives like?
Do the walls talk? What would they tell us? Was this a happy home, or was there a lot of discord? Were there a lot of children living here? Was there fun and laughter? Did they worship together? Did they talk around the dinner table? Was there special celebrations, like Christmas, Easter, and birthdays?
I think about the many homes where I have lived. The first home I remember is near the airport in St. Louis. My dad built the house. It was on the property of my grandparents’ farm. Dad borrowed Grandpa’s mule to dig the foundation of the house. How he did that I am not sure. Shortly after completing the house, the mule died. My dad always chuckled and said that Grandpa said Dad killed that mule! I was a few months old when we moved in that home, and we moved out when I was in 2nd grade. My memories of that home are good. I lived next door to my grandparents. I could walk over to their home, and Grandma would feed me cookies and milk. Next door was my cousin, Gordon. He was my age and my playmate. I do not remember if we moved out first, or if his family moved out first. We had two large pear trees in our yard, and Grandma had a cherry tree in her yard. My sisters would climb the tree and eat the cherries, and on occasion would drop a cherry down to me, who was too little to climb the tree.
My next home, my father also built. He now had become a building contractor and built all the houses on our street in the south county of St. Louis. It was a large ranch home—a typical 1950’s style ranch. I didn’t like it when we first moved there because the windows were high, and I had to jump to see out of my bedroom window. That lasted only a short time, as I grew taller, I could see out. I have fond memories of this house. I lived there until I got married. My parents lived there for almost 30 years before they sold it and moved on.
The very first home that I owned as an adult was in Webster Groves, MO. It was a 75 year old home with a beautiful large yard. Three of my four children were born while I lived in that home. We owned our first dog there, and I learned how to garden. I carpeted over the hard wood floors (really? Who does that? It was the 70’s—we liked carpet)! Memories in that home are good.
I have lived in four other homes since. The one I love the best was the home I had in St. Charles, MO. In 1999, I decided I wanted to move from the neighborhood I was in. I just felt it was going downhill, and that I needed a place to fit my family, as I saw it growing with daughters-in-law, and future grandchildren. I had been a single mom for about 15 years. I now was getting professional positions, had finally gotten my finances in order. On a fluke, I drove around looking at new housing. I wasn’t looking in the St. Charles area. That was fairly far from where I lived. One of the builder’s homes I was interested in, told me they had other model homes I could look at in St. Charles. They could build those same houses in the area where I was looking. One Saturday I got in my car and drove to St. Charles to look at the model home. I accidentally pulled into the wrong development, and went to look at their model homes. I realized a couple things on that excursion: 1) Homes were less expensive for the same house in this neighborhood, and 2) I liked this new builder’s homes better than the ones in which I was previously interested.
I made that “fork in the road” decision. I decided to step out in see if I could actually purchase one of these homes. Would I qualify? Could I really have a house built? I picked the floor plan I liked. After looking at several model homes all over town, I actually picked a floor plan of one that I had not seen a model, but by that time, I knew what I was wanting. This was so out of my comfort zone. I signed the contracts and gave them an earnest money check. I drove back to my home in south county. I walked in the door and all my kids were home and chatting in the living room. I walked in and sat down. They all looked at me, and I burst into tears! I then told them that I just signed a contract to get a new home built in an area of town in which I was not familiar. I said that I didn’t even know where the grocery stores were. My oldest son looked seriously at me, and then proceeded to say, “Mom, you used to talk about moving to Phoenix, Arizona. You don’t know where the stores are there either.” It hit me! No one is starving in St. Charles—there must be grocers. This is a new adventure, and I will find the grocery store. Be bold and courageous, and go forth! It took four months to get the house built. My home sold immediately, and I lived in temporary housing with the majority of my belongings in storage. That home in St. Charles had some of the best Christmas celebrations, and 4th of July barbecues. It is the house my grandkids remember when they were little. If the walls could talk, it would tell of such happy times there.
After living for 14 years in that home, I met my current husband, sold my home, married him, and moved to the country. We have a lovely home in the middle of the woods with a lake and pool out back. This is a home made to entertain—to welcome family and friends to enjoy the serenity of this lovely location. My grandkids have made a lot of new memories here also. My friends have attended my parties and barbecues here.
Will any of these houses be abandoned in the future like the ones I have driven by? I don’t know. It will be sad if that happens. Homes stand because they have life. They give shelter and protection to those who live there. Hopefully, those homes are filled with love and laughter, not sadness and dysfunction.
What would your homes tell if the walls could talk? What are the memories made in your homes? What would you want the walls to say about you? If it’s not what you want, it time to start making those memories now. Get those walls to smile, and tell great stories of the ones who filled the rooms.
Start now building good memories!