I wanted to see it for myself. I needed to see if for myself. I’d been told that “the farm” had been torn down recently, after it was decided that it was far too costly to renovate. The new owner was kind enough to keep our family informed of the status of the property… but everyone knew what the eventual outcome would be. The land was valuable. The old farmhouse that sat atop it was not. At least not to most people.
But how do you put a price on memories? This house had been in our family for generations. As always seems to be the case, I never fully appreciated what that meant when I was younger. I only knew that it was a long car drive, and I didn’t have my computer games there to play with. It wasn’t until I became a father and started to take my own children to visit their great grandmother that I really started to see the farm for what it truly was. The central bond bringing our family together.
Some families are extremely close. Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins… get together on a regular basis for BBQs, birthdays or reunions. This is not my family. Although we may see one branch or another throughout the year, the only time we truly came together was for Christmas or my Grandmother’s birthday. And of course those gatherings took place at the farm. Four generations of family under one roof, eating cold turkey, drinking ginger ale, and getting caught up on the previous months’ events.
Eventually my grandmother could no longer stay at the farm. It remained vacant for a period of time, until I was asked whether I would mind looking after it. The answer was easy. I needed a change, and despite the lengthy commute, the farm would be a perfect spot for me. No one was really sure how long I would be there. Maybe a few months. Maybe a year. It ended up being three years.
During that time I created many fond memories. I cooked some fantastic meals. I spent time with wonderful people. I watched my children climb the beautiful trees. I spent summer afternoons napping on my hammock. I can’t even begin to put a number on the amount of times that I sat on those front steps late at night and watched the stars overhead. The farm was peace and quiet. It was everything that I needed.
Despite all of this, the farm house was not perfect. It was old. There was no denying it. Whoever was to live there permanently would be responsible for some pretty hefty improvements. But I’ll be the first to admit… when the offer was initially presented to me, I did entertain dreams of purchasing the property and enjoying that peace and quiet for a very long time. It killed me to say no, but I realize that was the only realistic decision.
I’m sure that every member of my family weighed the pros and cons of purchasing that property, eventually coming to the same conclusion. We were in no position to hold onto it. Sadly it would have to be sold. The likelihood of the farmhouse surviving that sale would be virtually non-existent.
Today was a beautiful day for a drive to the country. I stopped at my favourite little restaurant for lunch before winding my way along the river valley route. With each passing point of reference I could feel the knot tightening in my stomach. Maybe I shouldn’t see what’s there now. Or what’s not there. Maybe I should just leave my memories intact, and not taint them with the truth. I reached the last bend in the road where I used to be able to see the peak of the house through the trees. For three years it always signalled the same thing… I was home.
Today there was no peak signalling me. I slowed and turned into the driveway, holding my breath. And there it was. Nothing. Hardly any debris. Just a flat area where a once-beautiful farmhouse used to sit. I saw an old picture of what the farm used to look like when it was well taken care of. It was a sight to behold. Sad to think of its decline and eventual loss. And now? Nothing.