childhood-home-burning-feb-4-2017 Photograph compliments of Janet Alan Goforth


First of all, this is an outpouring of a grieving soul. My writing is free association at this point, and it may not even be coherent. Do not expect correct grammar, transitions,  or even good writing. I am very emotional at the moment.

I cannot stop crying. The house I grew up in is burning down. No one was hurt. But, so many memories are going up in smoke. Watching for the school bus out the back bedroom window so we could throw our coats on and run up the driveway in time to be there when it pulled up. Being there with my father the last few days  he spent there and finally getting his permission to call the ambulance that took him away for the last time from the home he built and lived in……I watched him build that home from the bottom up. I was 4 going on 5—-that makes the house that is burning  or has burned by now survived almost 63 years of memories.

Christmases there…bringing in cedars to decorate, decorating the windows, playing the piano or the organ, sitting on that awful pea green circular sectional sofa. Mother’s drapes with geometric modern art bright orange and green shapes on them. Waxing the floors—wood and tile. Storing winter or summer clothes in the hallway closet depending on what season it was. Dogs, cats. Beloved pets. Working on homework, baking cookies, mother reading stories to me. Mother sewing our clothes, dressing us all up for Easter. Family cousins, grandparents visiting, holiday dinners, watermelons my father would bring home after work. My  father making pancakes on Sundays—–and, later, Sunday pancakes changed to Sunday biscuits. Our small bedroom us 3 girls shared. I got the top bunk.

Our first little black and white TV and watching “I’ve Got a Secret”—-the first TV show I ever watched. Later came Captain Kangaroo, Howdy Doody, Sky King, Roy Rogers, Mighty Mouse, Romper Room, Walt Disney on Sunday nights. My father making us shut off “our shows” so he could watch boxing when he got home from work. The party we had there when I was in high school—– I hosted it with three other girls as our “home economics” project. We were dancing in the front yard—doing the “Twist”. Hunting for Easter eggs, Becky shaking Christmas packages trying to guess what they were. Anita dressing her cat up in doll clothes—–that cat would always run from her. Bringing boyfriends home and other friends from college. Reading library books in the summer. Riding my green and white bicycle (“Thunderhead”) up the hill to visit Mary Jane or Ellen. Playing Monopoly or Canasta or Rook.

Watching home movies—-laughing at the dynamite explosions played backwards. “Camping” out in the family tent in the back yard. Going out in middle of night to watch falling stars—–remembering my grandmother told me a falling star was an angel carrying someone who died up to heaven. Hanging clothes out to dry in the back yard. Fishing in the ponds, riding horses, dodging walking sticks on the  mountain, pulling cat tails out of the lake, pulling thistles out of the field with my father. Having the “I Will Build Myself a Farm” counted cross-stitch my mother did and had framed sitting in my laundry room and not knowing where to put it.

Going home after “the divorce” never was the same.  Both of my parents had remarried,  and visits had to be split between two homes. But still, the good memories outweigh the bad, and now the house is no more. My parents are dead. Dear friends are dead. My retirement is not comprised of sitting on my deck gazing at the mountains in Colorado as I had planned.

The TV I am looking at as I type was my father ‘s —and it came from the house that is burning. That beautiful rock fireplace and “waterfall” my  father was so proud of having built—-all gone. That beautiful picture window gone. The trees we planted, the swings we swung on, the orchard, the roses, the other flowers, all gone.

I do not like having to learn the lesson of letting go, but that is what life is all about. Learning to surrender, to let go, to accept life on life’s terms realizing things and people are not fair. Enough time spent on the “pity pot.” Here is what I am grateful for: my four dogs with their unconditional love, my two sisters, my friends, my church, my faith, God’s eternal and unconditional love, my house, having enough money, health care, and food to live comfortably. Being sober and clean. My mind, my soul, my life. My memories…..and the gift of being able to make new ones. The lessons being “pounded home” to me this week have all been about letting go, connecting, working on community, and being grateful and compassionate. I just could have done without this latest lesson.