Monday, June 1, 2009


You know when the phone rings in the hours between midnight and six A.M. that it's a harbinger of bad news, and last night was no exception to the rule. Our phone rang around 4:00 A.M. Monday morning and brought the news that my mother's house had burned down. The good news is that Mom was awakened by the smoke detector and got out in time. She was able to get herself and my dad's old Lab, Winnie, out safely. Everything else is gone.

This old house wasn't worth much as far as real estate values go, but it provided many years' worth of memories for our family. This is the house Mom moved into at the age of seventeen, and where we moved to when I was in fifth grade. It's the house we crammed twelve children and two adults into its three bedrooms. It's the house we all brought our spouses home to meet our parents, and it's the place we all brought our children to for the holidays. It's the home we all ran to when our father died four years ago. Now it's nothing but a burnt-out pile of rubble, but I had to run to it one more time to see for myself what it had become. And I cried. And I'm crying right now.

I didn't think I had much emotional attachment left to the old place because it seemed like I couldn't get away from it fast enough when I was a teenager. I was ashamed of its lack of amenities for almost all my life. I railed at Mom all the time to clean it up, empty it of all her "junk" and didn't visit her as much as I should have because of the house. I even hated it. Now that it's been reduced to a pile of charred wood and broken glass, I'm homesick for it. Now I see the value in it. Now I understand some of what Mom feels for the old place. Dilapidated, run-down, decrepit, at least it had stories and memories and life within those shabby walls. Soon it will be an empty lot because Mom says she's not living there on that land in a different house. And I get it. Now. When it's too late.

But. Mom is alive and that is worth more than any house on the planet. So we start making new memories. Now. And it's not too late for that.

I picked this bouquet of pink roses from the bush in the front yard. Although the bulldozer will come through soon enough and level everything and trucks will cart off all the rubble, they are a symbol of hope. I know this because Mom will be digging like a crazy lady, and you can bet these roses will bloom again in another yard.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry about your mom's house but so glad everyone is okay.

    Somehow, I know those pink roses will grow again.....

    What a way to start your summer!