The house that we grew up in
They say you can never go back......
Each time I head back to Panama City for a visit, I make my rounds driving past the places that I once lived....the places that hold memories for me....the places that are still dear to my heart. It's nice to relive happy times. To remember the people we loved in the places in which they were once so alive.
One of the fondest places of my childhood is my granny's house. I grew up in this house. My brothers and I turned the crawlspace under granny's house into a playhouse of sorts. We would go on adventures and treasure hunts, finding old pots, pans, glass containers, and randomcar parts....once we even found hundreds of coins, mostly pennies, that were hidden there years before....by my own mom and her brothers. There were four intersecting pear trees in the backyard. We would climb in them and pretend we were in the deepest jungles of Africa, on a safari hunt for wild and exotic animals. Along the side of her house were a variety of trees and bushes....from a banana tree, to azaleas, pecan trees, fig trees, and elephant ears.
In the front corner of the yard was a small cement pond, that was empty most of the time. The walkway leading to the front porch was hemmed in by two leaning pecan trees and flowering cactus plants. We pretended that the cactus flowers held magical powers...since they only bloomed twice a year. Off to the left of the house stood a metal water heater....once upon a time they were lept outside the house I guess! We could pull limbs from a willow tree a stand on top of the tank, jump off and pretend we were flying. This home, our childhood playground....was protected by a chain link fence that surrounded the property.
As you walked up the brick steps that led to the wooden porch, you were encased by two cement plank like walkways that overlooked azalea bushes. On the porch to your right was an old cement tiled door....behind which was granny's pottery room....which wasn't really a pottery room anymore, just another place to hold mysterious treasures that would keep my brothers and I guessing at the contents to this day! To the far left of the porch was a wooden swing, attached to the house by metal chains and 2 large hooks anchored in the ceiling.
Walking through the door, the first thing you would see is a massive wood burning heater. I can still remember the smell....and the crackle the burning wood produced. My brothers and I would fight over who was going to add more wood when the door was opened. I remember the old, green, soft, felt like carpeting in the living room....and the bookcases that marked the entrance to the dining room. These bookcases were probably one of the biggest contributors to my love of reading. From these built in bookshelves with metal locking clasps came Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mocking Bird" and Melville's, "Moby Dick"...the first two "classics" that ever caught my attention. Inside were also old school books that were used by my great uncles and my own grandmother.....my mom's mother whom I had never met. These bookshelves were the best part of granny's house.
Keep walking....and you see a china cabinet to your right (the same that now sits in my formal dining room) and a small table that held the phone and the *very skinny!) phone book. Also in the dining room was a matching hutch that held shiny silverware and extra hand towels. There were two exits from the dining room. The one on your right led to the only bathroom in the house, to granny and papa's room, and to the refridgerator. The one to the left led to the kitchen......and to the laundry/storage room.
I will skip all but granny's room. A massive bedroom that held a king sized bed, a sewing room, a wall mounted space heater, and her beloved TV. My fondest memories of this room are of granny yelling at the wrestlers on TV and watching the Macy's Christmas parade with her. To the back of the room was a massive closet....a closet that I never dared to look into. My papa died when I was 5...maybe 6...and she told me that even though he'd died.....he was still with us. A saying that I totally understand now...but at the time, I thought it meant that she was hiding him away in the deep recesses of that never ending closet!
Last Thanksgiving, we went home for the holiday. I'd gone to pick up a pint of oysters from my favorite spot and decided to drive past granny's old house. The house had been sold years before after my grandmother died...and I knew that the people who'd bought it had done some major renovations. I'd always been curious as to how the house looked like inside...since the front looked much the same, minus the pottery room. For some reason I had a wild hair and decided to stop and take a picture.....for memories sake. As I was taking the picture, a man came out...so I decided to brave it up and ask if I could look around. I explained who I was and he was more than happy to let me take a look around. I was amazed at the difference!
I was even more amazed to find that my beloved bookcases were still there.....with the original hardware! Everything else was so different....but so much the same. This home of my childhood didn't fail to bring tears to my eyes....especially when the man told me that a woman that looked like me had come by several years ago and asked if she could do the same. The woman told him that she'd grown up in this house and had raised her children here as well.....I knew that he spoke of none other than my mom.
As I climbed back into the car, I broke down into tears. This place that had meant so much to me...and to my mom....to know that she had visited before she died....made me cry and smile at the same time. I am glad I have the memories that this old house gave me.....happy that I now have pictures of it to share with my children. I can only hope that someday this home we make for them will give them the same warm, happy feeling in return.
Posted by Alisha at 8:26 PM