It was one of those funny old farmhouses that was added onto again and again as it was needed.
And once, someone cut into the back of the house and added a stairway that just dropped down in front of you when you opened two bedroom doors on either side of it.
We were sure that someone would fall down those stairs, but nobody ever did.
Our toddler had a unique method of going down those old stairs. He'd plop himself down on his belly feet first and thump-thump-thump all the way down to the turn in the landing and then go the rest of the way. That back staircase was carpeted and was the most used.
The house had a beautiful front staircase as well. We didn't live in that house long enough to change anything and I didn't really have time since I had a new baby when we moved in and was homeschooling three others.
It sat very close to the road, but we didn't seem to notice because we had five acres that were long and skinny. There were old buildings to explore and a huge old barn. People used to stop and take photos of the barn because it was unique. We always said we needed to fix up that barn. All around us was farmland and even though the interstate was close by, we felt that we were in the middle of nowhere. Whenever we went to church or town, we drove through a beautiful state park. I remember thanking God for letting us live there.
Then we had to move......a new job offer over 800 miles away......and we were gone. I was very sad to leave. I used to drive by it when we would return for visits. Once, I even found out it was for sale, but we weren't moving and I didn't have money lying around to buy real estate. When we did move back a little over a year ago, it was listed for an exorbitant amount because they wanted to sell to a developer. The agent told me that the house had no value and was in terrible shape. I couldn't believe it. I hadn't been gone that long! That house was in wonderful shape when I left it.
While I lived there, I did my first "house research". I found an old photograph of it in a newspaper. I found that the original plat of land (160 acres) was bought by a woman which was very unusual for the time. The house was built in the early 1800s. At one point in its early history, two brothers lived there and they took in their 12 year old niece after the death of her parents. She lived there until she was a very old woman. She never married because she was convinced that the men only wanted her money. Two other families owned it after her before we bought it. And other than a two year old and a baby, there were no other children who lived there until we moved in. It was a child's dreamland.
We had a yard sale after we moved in and an elderly man came and told me that he used to work on that farm. He threshed wheat in the big old barn. The building we were standing near had a belfry and I asked him what it had been used for. He told me there were long tables in it and that is where the threshers would eat their meals. They would ring the bell as a signal. He told me that the barn had never been painted as far back as he could remember.
In the short time we lived there, our children ran and played and worked and laughed and learned. It was a time of contentment for me. Such memories! Like the time the riding lawn mower broke down and we we let part of the large yard grow up and I looked out the kitchen window and saw my children pretending they were the Ingalls family out on the prairie. Or the time the kitten climbed up the tree to the porch roof outside my bathroom window and couldn't get down and I had to take out the window screen in the middle of the night to rescue it. Then there was the sourdough bread baking days.....dozens and dozens of loaves of that wonderful bread. The very best place for it to raise was in an upstairs bedroom closet that surrounded the chimney in the center of the house, so I just knocked the socks off the shelf and lined up the bread pans.
One day my son looked down and there was an old civil war coin lying on top of the dirt in a shed. My husband investigated and after a little while, had managed to dig up an entire pot-bellied stove that was nearly as tall as he was. Unfortunately, he would not let me take it with us when we moved.
Blackberries grew on the back fence behind the barn, and we had apple trees and pear trees. The outhouse was a hoot because the old "instructions" were still there nailed to the wall.....and the wreath on the garden shed was home to nests of baby birds. We cut lilacs from the largest bush I'd ever seen and in the fall I introduced my children to the persimmons that fell in the driveway. Our oldest son faithfully kept the woodbox full in the winter. One day we heard a ruckus on the roof. We discovered a goose who had landed there, obviously separated from the rest of his friends. He was honking and honking. I grabbed the video camera and video taped the SOS call.
Sadly, I do not have photographs of all of the rooms in the house. I wish I had taken them when we left the house in the capable hands of our real estate agent.
That would be wonderful to see.
Bought by a developer.
Burned to the ground to make way for new houses.
This world is not my home. I know this.
My Father's House is eternal, permanent, and perfect. I know this as well.
But, for me... for the time I have been here... out of the eleven houses I have lived in... this was "home".
It was a time when all of my children were small...
When I was living close to friends...
When I could enjoy a slower pace of living...
Where the views from every window were peaceful...
It is the house I always talk about...
It is the house I entertained thoughts of owning again. Someday.
It is strange what gives a person that feeling of "being home". Certainly we were not there long enough for any of our children to be much attached to it. The next house we lived in, we were in for 12 years......it was a beautiful newer house, surrounded by two acres of idyllic woodland for children to run and play in. That is the place where our children were "raised". Today, I live in an old house full of history and secrets to be discovered, but it does not feel like home. I know a lot about the original occupants of this current house, but it does not feel like "my house".
The "Wilmington Road House" was my house. If anything can be said to belong to me since I am a pilgrim just camping here and there until I get Home.
I have pieces of it with me today......taken before we moved away.......bits of the old post and beam barn with handcarved wooden pegs......glass inkwell and bits of pottery dug from a fence row.....old button shoes found in the top of a small barn.... the old waterpump that stood in one of the four cisterns......memories......a sense of belonging......a sense of appreciation for the handpainted closet doors and wonderment of who chose the old cheesecloth-backed wallpaper that was in the press (closet)...
....but most of all,
I have with me, still,
a Sense of Place.
My place...in this world...
as a happy wife.....
and happy mother... of happy children.
*I recently drove past the place of my favorite house. I thought maybe there would be a brand new subdivision. A year or so ago, I went past there and there was only overgrown field grass covering my memories. Now a farmer is planting corn. The land is still waiting for a developer. I am in a place that it would have been possible to buy it again, were it still standing....and yet, that was not God's plan. So we drove the youngest kids past there and told them about when their older siblings were young and the adventures they had in that place. It felt as if we were there once again as we told them about it.... ~debbie