Brothers: Johnny, Billy and Donny
Today we move Mom and Dad out of their home of 56 years. Life moves us all on, but there are some milestones that are tougher than others. Yesterday morning I stopped by the house to help with a few things and as I stood in the driveway, I looked around the neighborhood. I could name the families that lived in all the houses nearby, but I knew no one who lives in those houses now. It was sort of a “life flashing before my eyes” thing. The countless memories flooded my mind as I could see all the neighbors kids I grew up with playing in the street…… the street today was empty of people. Where I stood is the same spot where my brothers, friends and I waited for our next ride on the go-cart or friend’s minibike.
The first time I was in this same spot where I stood reminiscing, I was four years old. Dad brought our family here to show us the lot he just bought to build our new house. The street was gravel at that time and trees were everywhere. Dad had parked the station wagon on the side of the road, and we all walked across the ditch to explore our new land. In the following months, our family spent long weekend days clearing the lot and burning the cut foliage. In short time we had cleared the area where the house will be built, the house Dad had designed using a drafting table at his new job. One time we pulled up to work on the lot and the first thing I saw was a sign that announced the building of a new house for Mr. and Mrs. John Overton. Before long, each time we pulled up the new house was in a different phase of construction. Dad had told the Contractor that we would be moving in the house in September since that is when school would start. The Contractor assured Dad that the house would be finished. September came and we moved in, but the house was not finished. The workers had to work around us after that. My brothers and I thought it was cool that we were living in a house that was still being built. It was sort of like camping out inside. I recall after a hard day of work in the backyard of clearing small trees, I had to crawl under two sawhorses that held a sheet of plywood in the bathroom to get to the tub for my bath. How cool was that! It was not long before all the carpenter tools and wood debris were gone, and the new house was ours.
There are so many memories and stories to be told about what all happened on this small piece of land that it is difficult to narrow it down in this short writing. The friends we made and played with. The tree house that was built out of boards and wood scavenged from the neighborhood. The bike jumps we dared each other to take. The go-kart we sometime fought over as to who would drive it next. The many pets we had that started with Maggie, our dog who moved here with us. Some of the pets from across the years are buried in the backyard. The Holidays that meant so much over the years as family and friends would gather for meals and good times. One by one my brothers and I left to start our own families which left Mom and Dad alone in the big house that was built for a big family. There was a couple of years when Mom and Dad lived in Huntington Beach, California and I lived in the house by myself. I had just finished college and was starting my career. The house was big and empty when I came home from work, but it was home. One time Dad asked me to get a Realtor to look at the house because they may want to sell it since they were now living in California. A Realtor came to look the house over and before she left, she said, “I don’t think you will sell this house; I feel a sense of a loving family that lives here”. She was right, it was not long before Mom and Dad moved back home. That was in 1986. I moved out about the time Mom and Dad moved back in.
In the last few months, we have been cleaning out things that the house had accumulated over the past 56 years. Things were handed to each of us that Mom and Dad no longer needed. Where they are moving is an apartment at an Independent Living facility nearby. There is not much room to store things there so if no one wanted what was not needed, it was taken to Goodwill or thrown away. As we brought things to our house, it was like going down memory lane for me. Remember the sign I mentioned earlier that said “…. building for Mr. and Mrs. John Overton”? I found that sign in the attic space in my old room. I brought it home and plan to hang it on a wall in my garage.
Later today the moving trucks will be there to move what is left in the house to Mom and Dad’s new home. It will be a sad moment for me as I walk out of that house for the last time. It will be like saying goodbye for the last time to a family member or an old friend.
As I stood on the driveway yesterday reminiscing, in the breeze I could almost hear friends of times past playing in the street. The laughter, the camaraderie and sometimes the crying. They say you can’t go home, but I know you can take home with you in your memories.
Lots of love, laughter and camaraderie in this house that was home for 56 years.
Only one not in this picture is Johnny