Monday, September 22, 2008
This very old house.
This is a picture of our house, circa 1906, the year it was built.
The little girl on the left was named Helen, and she lived in this house, that her parents built, until she died. Helen's future husband grew up on our block too, across the street and over a few houses.
Ours was the first house on the block. A few changes have been made- the porch was rebuilt into a fabulous enclosed 3-season porch that I love, and a few (very, VERY few) internal updates were made.
I was home one day 5-6 years ago and looked out my back window to see some women standing in my back yard and pointing at my house. Being that I normally don't have groups of middle-aged women hanging out on my lawn, I went out to investigate.
Turns out, they were daughters & relatives of Helen's, and were just in the neighborhood so they decided to stop by, visit my (now deceased) neighbor Doc and take a peek at the house. I took them into the house and showed them what we had done (at the time, it was very cute and I had cleaned, which was surprising most of all to me) and they were very, very grateful. One of them cried. They sent me this picture and a lovely letter about the house, Helen, and the neighborhood.
Yesterday, when I was knee-deep in getting ready to paint the living room, I looked out to see a woman and a teenaged girl peeking in my windows. Not being easily fazed, and remembering that our doorbell is still broken, I went out to see what was up, expecting to get a lengthy speech about how Jesus can save my soul and help me win the lottery.
Lo and behold, this was another of Helen's daughters, just looking to take some outdoor pics of the place. She asked if she could see the inside, and I agreed, knowing full well what she was walking into.
I walked her through and told her about all of the renovations and improvements we were working on. She was happy that we were maintaining the place and helping it make it another 100+ years, but I could tell that it bothered her a bit that we were changing things.
It was our house now, it was no longer hers.
She also confirmed what I had long figured was true- that people had died in my house. Both Helen and her husband died here, and the large window in our living room was the backdrop for many an open-casket viewing- she said that our house was used for this purpose on many occasions.
I'm o.k. with that. I don't think Helen would approve of my non-catholic status, but I think she'd like what we've done with the place. As much as I bitch, I love my house. I love my warm, maple syrup-colored hardwood floors that are perfectly worn, I love the high ceilings downstairs, I love the simple woodwork, I love that many of the windows still have the original 1906 glass with bubbles and flaws, I love my giant rhubarb patch in the back yard, and I love that this house was loved from day one.
I'm going to have Helen's daughter over when we're done (which, by NASA's latest estimates, should be roughly around Spring 2045) so that she can see the finished product. I felt bad that everything (and I mean every single room) looks like a war-torn third world country, and I'd hate to think that she thinks we live like this all of the time. Most of the time, but not ALL of the time. Sheesh, we are civilized adults, you know.
Oddly enough, I hope she likes it.