To the new residents at 1001 Carty Road,
I know as you pull your moving vans in this old farm house may not look like much to you. But let me tell you what I see. As I come over the 1-5 bridge I catch the first glimpse of the trees, the trees I have watched through so many seasons. Gorgeous in the spring with flowers blooming, in the summer and fall covered in red leaves with tart plums the kids love to take just one bite of. In the winter bare branches coated with snow and ice.
It was under these trees that my brother Mark attempted to run me over when I was riding a bike with no brakes. And under these trees I learned to drive a car for the first time. And as a glowing bride I waited at the end of the tree lined drive to catch a glimpse of my groom for the first time.
Pulling in to the yard I can still see my dad riding around on his mower. He spent countless hours keeping up his yard, or was he just trying to drown out the sound of his 11 kids? And I can still see the spot where the pool that Tommy kicked down the hill once stood. The sheds we used to use as slides or diving boards on to the trampoline, and the big red barn and fields which held many a family gathering. The exterior has changed countless times with paint jobs and remodels but what never changed was that feeling of coming home.
Entering into the house through the kitchen I remember the many hours of sitting at the kitchen table visiting and munching. My dad and mom sitting in the same chairs every morning with their morning coffee before my dad would sit in front of the heater and shave than kiss my mom before heading out the door. I had many late night talks with my mom in the darkened kitchen when I was coming in late and she was up with her typical insomnia. And who could forget the famous roll making parties before holiday and weddings? Also one of my most touching and influential conversations with my dad happened at that kitchen table.
Through to the dining room where I spent 27 years of family dinners. Many of which conversation centered around the infamous, “what good happened to you today?” to which dad always answered, “I never got sick and I never died!” And the piano where my mother taught me to play. Many of my most special memories are around the piano with my mom. Sometimes with a group of family or friends and sometime just me and her singing our hearts out. Sometimes we were just having fun and enjoying praising God, other times it was almost a desperate search for comfort and reassurance.
Up the stairs that I must have climbed thousands of times and fell down a few times as well, to the rooms where I spent my childhood. Many of those years were spent sharing a room with my sister Diana, not that I minded. We had many many nights of staying up way too late either having hearts to hearts or laughing till our stomachs hurt, or until dad yelled from the other room. For some reason it was always me who got in trouble (it might have something to do with my obnoxious laugh). It always resulted in my sitting out on the cold hard step up to my parents room, until dad sent me back to bed or forgot I was there and fell asleep. Meanwhile Diana slept peacefully on in her bed comfy and warm and laughing at my unfortunate punishment.
Back downstairs to the master room, which is where the most meaning in the house lies for me. It was in this room that I was born on a hot summer evening in 1983. And many times through my child hood I remember sneaking in on tip-toe to try to get moms attention without waking dad. And most importantly it was in this room where we said goodbye to our father. With the whole family present we sang him into eternity. It is a memory which I will never forget one detail or emotion of. One of the most painful but beautiful moments of my life.
So as you look at this 100+ year old house, with its chipped paint and old windows, try to see what I see. A house full to the brim of rich and powerful memories. A house that has provided a home to 11 kids and 50+ grandchildren. A house that has been a place of chaos and a peaceful respite, that has seen us through good times and bad, fights and marriages, births and deaths. In other words so much more than a house- it has been a birthing room, and hospital, a church, a counseling center, a conference center, a carnival, a gathering place, but most importantly it has been and always will be HOME.