I barely remember my great-grandparents' house, and yet parts of it I can see vividly a lifetime later. It was her dream and his work, and in the three summers and two winters it took to fully complete the house down to the last nail and piece of trim in the 1930s, he delivered her dream to the dot of an 'i'. My grandmother and her two siblings were born and grew up in that house, each came back to the house at least once for a few months when life took turns on them, and family holidays were always held there -- and no matter how far away any of my great-grandparents' children and grandchildren went in their lives, they would always make it back.
I was five or six the last time I was there for Thanksgiving, and while no one was paying attention to me I tried to see the entire house for myself. The livingroom and diningroom and parlor were easy, the master bedroom I slipped into without being turned away by luck, and a couple 'no kids allowed' rooms I was barely able to get the knob to turn on due to my height and strength but made it in cautiously. Some of the rooms were a time capsule to the people who had lived in them, others were fairly current from being used as guest bedrooms or storage. The windowless space at the top of the front door turret was my favorite one because I'd never seen the inside before; this was the music room that relatives always made reference to but I'd never pondered where it was in the house.
I made it through all the rooms I could find and reached the bathroom door before my mother saw me, so she didn't know I'd taken the tour. Dinner was as always amazing and the house was warm with a glow not from the fireplace or heating system retrofit in the 1950s. I looked forward to coming back at Christmas to search more if I could manage it, I was just starting to be able to see the beauty and details in things. Ten days after Thanksgiving, my great-grandmother passed of old age in her bed and two days after that my great-grandfather died of a broken heart (as various relatives tell the story) beside where she would have been. Christmas dinner was for the first time held at my grandmother's house, and my great-uncle sold the house three months after his parents died once the house was cleaned out because he -- well, he said it was because he couldn't shoulder the expense, but my mother said years later it was really because he couldn't bear the weight of the memories. Yesterday I was going through my grandparents' things as we sorting out her estate and I found this photo. This is exactly how I remember the house, driving up to it as a little one.
may 2016 be a peaceful and beneficial year for all of you... do great things, and help others be great.