Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Makes a House a Home?

The house I grew up in in Little Rock sits on a big hill. There is one street that bi-sects the hill, and houses are built on either side overlooking a valley or the Arkansas River. My parent's house is on the valley side. Behind the house are woods where numerous forts were constructed during my childhood years. In the front and side yards are shrubs and trees, and the front walk is lined with big bushes.

I love my parent's house. Maybe I love it because it is the only house I lived in before I got married? Maybe I love it because I walk in and instantly feel like a child at home? Maybe I love it because that house has grown with us. We lived there before my mom was sick, we lived there when she was, and now my family lives there without her. The house holds memories from all of it.

George, Eleanor and I have always lived in our own same rooms from the time we were home from the hospital. I remember painting my room from white to blue to yellow over the years. George colored on his walls so many times as a child my mom finally gave up and left the crayon drawings until he was 11. Eleanor had a room, but never slept in it. She preferred my parents room. My dad joked, but with a great deal of seriousness, that he was going to buy two king size beds and push them together because somehow 3 little kids always ended up sandwiched in their bed by morning.

In the winter we loved being inside by the big brick fireplace and in the summer we couldn't get enough of our huge yard. The backyard was perfect for sledding and a slip-n-slide. The front yard held countless games of baseball and tag. The back deck hosted many cookouts for birthday parties, baseball team celebrations, and community group get togethers.

We have taken in numerous animals to my dad's dismay - rabbits, dogs, cats, turtles, birds, a duck egg that was incubated until I dropped it, hampters, a guinea pig. It was an all out freak show!

My family lived through years of my mom's hoarding problems which we later realized were a sign of Alzheimer's. She didn't know how to reason what should stay and what should be thrown away. This lasted up until she was diagnosed. It was a horrible time. It was like the house personified everything we felt - we were frustrated, jumbled, trying so hard not to let go of the past and accept the card we had just been dealt.

Not long after she was diagnosed it was time for a change. A fresh start in our old house. A dumpster was ordered and through tears we began to sort through the chaos. Two dumpsters and a whole remodel later by my Uncle Jeff, who is an interior designer from Nashville, our house's new start had begun.

I am so thankful that my mom got to have a part in picking out all the new appliances she had wanted, the color of granite, the paint, etc. I tried to tell my dad he ws crazy for getting a gas stove. I just knew there would be a horrible accident and she would leave on the gas or burn herself, but she had always wanted a gas stove and he was going to buy it for her whether she had Alzheimer's or not.

She loved her house. That's one reason we've been worried to take her back since she went into the nursing home. What memories will it bring back and will it be hard on her? Will she understand? Will she recognize where we are?

I often remind Reid that if my house is ever for sale (which it won't be) then we are buying it so it stays in our family. Ultimately, I hope that my dad passes the house down to my brother so that more Bain memories can be made for years to come.

-- Post From My iPhone


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