Leaving (a) Home

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This isn’t the first time it’s happened–but it will likely be the last. And I suppose that makes it different, harder, odd. My Mom and Pop are selling their farm. And why shouldn’t they…they’re both past 80 now. When they bought it several years back, there were only two grandchildren. I don’t know why I feel so shaken by this. After all, I never lived there. They moved to this farm after my husband and I had been married almost 10 years. But so much of our family story is perked into that spot of ground, it’s been hard watching the Realtor sign go up next to the mailbox.

They love to tell the story of how they came around a bend in this old, barely paved country road and followed a long line of overgrown orchards mixed in with native trees. They passed over a one-lane bridge and came up a hill past the biggest Sycamore tree in Indiana. Suddenly, there, with the Sycamore standing vigil, the woods opened up and a meadow became visible. It sloped downward toward a barn lot on a gentle rolling hillside. Uphill, the tall meadow grasses and overgrown pear, apple and cherry trees hid the eaves of an old, long abandoned house.

Field of Dandylions and Dirt
Field of Dandylions and Dirt

They looked at each other and nodded. They carefully steered their city sedan up what was left of a gravel drive–more like a natural gully made by a hundred years of neglect and summer showers. Tiger Lilys grew wild, poking their fiery orange and speckled brown heads up above the wild Timothy hay. The well-house had long ago blown over in a forgotten storm, but the pump-head still stood, with the handle only lightly rusted. They looked at each other again, and stepped out into the knee deep weeds, grass and wildflowers.

More as it looked through loving eyes
More as it looked through loving eyes

The old house looked a bit ragged. It seemed the barn had fared better. The way it was sited on the hillside had probably given it some breaks against the weather. But the old house stood tall and straight. It had been built by a Quaker family in 1857 the farmer had told them. No one had lived in it for over 50 years, except an occasional Mama Coon raising her kits. It hadn’t been painted for much longer than that. At some point a porch had been added, then fallen away and removed again. So that’s how it stood, looking so plain-faced and sturdy.

My parents said they looked at each other again and smiled. My dad said–“Just looks like a Grandma and Grandpa farm doesn’t it?” they shook hands with the farmer and officially bought it the next week.

The Grand-kid population kept growing over the years, and regular weekend visits to the country were always a favorite treat. Where else could you go fishing, talk to a cow, climb a tree full of Bumblebees and cherries or walk along manger walls to the hay-rope and pretend you were a circus performer? All the flowers in sight were grown just to be picked by eager little hands, and the crop of barn kittens was an unending rainbow of variety.

Chatting with Bossy
Chatting with Bossy

So, I hope that the next family who buys it understands it for the treasure trove of childhood entertainments that it is. Maybe then they can overlook the uneven floor boards or the agony of the electrical and phone lines failing for days on end during an ice-storm or heavy snow. It’s time for Grandma and Grandpa to move on. The children are all Great Grandchildren now, and the farm is too much to keep up with. But it sure was fun mowing that grass–all 7 acres. The other 25 or so were for the big tractor

Daddy and Grandson riding the little tractor
Daddy and Grandson riding the little tractor

Author: Mom

I am a writer who just happens to love family trees. As the self proclaimed Family Historian and Writer in Residence at my house, I blog to others about family history writing. When I first began this journey, everyone was bored silly with my "family tree stuff." Once I started writing the stories down, everyone willingly joined in. Now the whole family pretty much participates! Imagine that ! Follow along, and you can gain a little family appreciation for all your hard nosed genealogical research while learning a little something about the craft of writing too.

40 thoughts on “Leaving (a) Home”

  1. Oh, I understand! When we left our little mini-ranch which we bought when our first grandchild was less than two years old, it was like leaving the childhoods of our grandchildren behind. Really, they had stopped gathering in the same ways by the time we left it, but it seemed as if we cut off the possibility of cousin camp-outs and carefree days.
    (Well, it wasn’t so carefree for my husband and I as the years went by…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! Over the years the thrill of the riding lawnmower has been replaced with teenage cars. And weekends with cousins are not the same as data with boys or Varsity 2-a-days!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Seems so many of us are feeling an end of an era these days. I recently visited the farm where I grew up and lived 25 years after I married. I can’ t explain the emotional upheaval I feel when I go there. I am grateful my nephews have bought it, but it is hard to make a go of a farm now. I hope it will stay in our family, but who knows. I feel for the grandma and grandpa in your post having to make the decision to leave because they can’t do the work to keep it going. Getting old is not for the feint of heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glenda,
      The sadder story is across the road. The neighboring farm was declared a “Hoosier Homestead Farm” several years ago. This is an honor bestowed on farms that have been in the same family for at least 100 years. In January, the last heir passed away and now that farm will likely be sold off to a developer. No more “Homestead” designation. I hope they will at least name a street in the subdivision “Hiatt Road” in their honor ❤

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  3. What beautiful memories. As hard as I know it is, believe me when I say it’s 1,000 times harder if you have to force your parents to sell and move. It’s wonderful they can make the transition willingly and on their terms, leaving happy memories behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We went through something similar 10 years ago, when my parents said they could no longer keep up with the farm they lived on for 28 years – which was also my Grandparents farm and has been in our family since 1865.

    I just couldn’t get over the idea that this place would not be there for us and our family, so we downsized in the city where we live and work and bought the farm. We thought we’d move there after 2-3 years, which hasn’t happened, but have done a lot of work and visit regularly. It’s our retreat, and we get to see my parents a lot because they are just a few miles away.

    We’re very lucky to have been able to do this. We are there every other weekend, and I stay some weeks because I work from home and can be anywhere.

    The decision to buy the farm was purely sentimental, but we have no regrets.

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  5. Everybody feels a loss when the place where generations have gathered and been happy together is sold. I think a certain amount of mourning has to take place. I’ve never laughed and cried as hard as the day my six siblings and I broke up our parents’ home, sharing out the treasures one by one. The silver lining for all of you is that your parents are still living, so you still have the soul of the place you liked so much.

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  6. I can so relate to this post.

    My husband and I have dreamed for years of having his family’s farm in Mississippi. No one else in the family wants it. They have plenty of other “assets” to divvy up with the other two siblings. We’ve held it in our hopes for years. But…, as those years have gone on, and nothing is done to ensure it will happen, we’ve slowly lost that hope. It’s five hundred acres of hardwoods and pastures. It has a beautiful house, a replica of my father in law’s ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary war. I just can’t imagine NOT ever going there again. We don’t know what will happen, but we are trying to mentally prepare ourselves for the inevitable comment, “we’re selling the farm.”

    I keep thinking it won’t come to that, but if it does, I guess all we can do is try and look for something much like your grandparents did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Move now! Offer to buy it from them! Maybe they think no one wants it! If we weren’t so entrenched in the current community we live in, we might be doing just that. On the other hand, I did just enter to win that Inn in Center Lovell Maine that’s up for grabs via a 200 word essay and a $125 entry fee–it seems more like a dream than a sure way of moving away from my current home. Come to think of it–what if I win that? What the heck was I thinking?

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      1. If only we could – we talked about it in 2010. But, with my dad just passing in March, and Mom here alone, now’s not the time. We’re mortgage free so really not wanting to get into that again. If they could make it work we’d make it work, you know?

        I ALMOST did that contest too! My mom is from Maine, and I thought the same as you – what the heck would I do if I won??? (only BEFORE I entered. LOL!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Crap! Wish I had your sense!
        You can come host a Writer’s retreat for me. I have a feeling, or paranoid delusion, stemming from “be careful what you wish for! “

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  7. Struck by the similarity of your description of the strong landscape of your parents’ farm and Larry McMurtry’s description of his parents’ ranch in Texas. It became the way of opening all his novels. The first poem I wrote started with what I remember about my grandparents’ farm in Monroeville, Indiana. Didn’t realize before how important these memories were. Thanks for your keen comments.
    Tom Richards

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  8. I hope your parents find another place they can enjoy calling home, and that you all make wonderful memories there too. It must be difficult to “lose” a place that feels like the hub of an extended family. All the best, Su.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Su. It’s sort of made me look at my own home and wonder if I’m doing enough to make it a Grandma and Grandpa house–we don’t have many cows in the city 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha. We’re in the process of getting our home ready for sale. It is pretty much the only home our son has ever known, and I’m really sad about taking that away from him. My family moved every few years when I was growing up so I have never had a “family home.” I hope our next place also feels like home to our son, though he’s unlikely to live there.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I have been mia lately and I apologize for not commenting or reading in way too long!!
    I love this story. It reminds me of my parents farm and how I felt when it was time for them to move to more affordable housing. I understand your feelings. It broke my heart to see the farm go to someone else. But I knew we couldn’t afford it and the extensive work it needed…
    So glad to see you memorialize the stories of that wonderful farm here on your blog!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Vicki! It’s been a long summer already! I go MIA a lot during this time of year. Too many graduations, deadlines, etc. And now, the farm thingy to top it, I seem to get distracted too easily 🙂

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