You can go home again

Published 6:24 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The average American moves every seven years. For many, including the military, the house they live in does not really have many memories. It is where they eat and sleep until they move to the next location. Their memories are more rooted in the friends they made and the community around them.

For others, they live much of their lives in the same house. The house is much more that a structure. It is like a vault, where each room triggers memories of years gone by. The house is such a part of their memory that many prefer never to return because seeing what the new owners have done is too painful.

My grandparents lived in the same house for over 40 years. It is the house my mother and her siblings grew up in.  As a grandchild living down the street, I too have memories of that house from my earliest days until I was married with children.

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Thirty years ago, my grandparents sold their home to move to the beach where my parents had also moved. No one in my family ever went in the house again. The new owners made it their home and then years later it became vacant. Traveling through my old hometown occasionally, I sadly watched the house and the once beautiful gardens fall into total disrepair.

Recently, a young enterprising couple, began working on fulfilling a lifelong dream of opening a restaurant. Slowly, patiently, they made repairs, restored the inside, and converted the kitchen into a commercial operation. I followed the whole process on their Facebook page.

A couple of weeks ago, four generations of my family gathered at the Food Plot Restaurant to have lunch. For my mother, brother and I, it was like stepping back into time. I was amazed at how the interior rooms all looked exactly as I remembered them.

The den still had the Ponderosa Pine paneling, with a shelf running near the ceiling. That is where my grandmother & great-grandmother’s collection of cut glass was on display. The room was so much smaller than I remembered. How did we all gather in that room to watch one of the earliest color televisions in town?

The living room was exactly the same, perhaps even with the same drapes. It was where I first learned to play the piano. It had a candy jar that held chocolate toffee. The kids would quietly sneak up into the room to see if the jar had anything inside. It was always full and is displayed in our dining room today.

We ate in my mother’s bedroom, where a canopy bed once filled the room. It belongs now to a cousin in Portland, Oregon. There was a hand tatted coverlet on the end of the bed that was over a hundred years old.

But it was the dining room that captured our attention the most. As a child, we had family dinners in that room where wallpaper decorated with peacocks adorned the walls. We had never seen anything like it back then. It is still there, as perfect as it must have been when it was put on the walls almost 70 years ago.

My daughters and their husbands and children patiently listened to the stories we told. Every room unlocked memories. The lawn held its own treasured memories as we pointed out where the goldfish pond surrounded by iris was once located.  I thought it was the most beautiful spot in the world.

Almost every childhood Easter picture of my brother, sister and I taken was taken in front of the azaleas in this once beautiful yard. Ironically, today we can find very few pictures from years past of the house itself.

The food was excellent and we wish only the best for the Womack family on their new journey as restaurant owners. However, we will also treasure that rare opportunity as a family to step back in time. In a wonderful way, we were able to go back home again.