Friday, December 12, 2008

Our farmhouse

As some may know, I grew up on a farm in rural Alabama. The house we lived in was already a hundred years old when my parents bought it in 1972. It started out as a one-room house, but throughout the years was expanded. My parents paid $25,000 for the house and the 85 acres it sits on. crazy!
Growing up, I was always embarrassed to live there. Silly, I know. All of my friends lived in nice, normal houses, in normal neighborhoods. I remember thinking how unbelievable it was to me that they could just walk outside and have kids right next door to play with! Our nearest neighbors were miles away. Since I could remember, my parents had talked about their plans to remodel the farm house. My dad, along with his father, had already built a house in Prattville that my Grandparents lived in all their lives....
So he wanted to be able to draw the plans, and remodel the farm house himself. He was a D.I.Y kinda guy. The foundation was laid for the new additions. ...and then, nothing. ever. happened.

My father was a perfectionist, and a procrastinator. If it couldn't be done exactly the way he wanted it, then it just wasn't worth starting, yet. The remodeling of the house, is something I waited for, and dreamed of. I was going to have my dream bedroom, with a window seat to sit and read in, and my own bathroom!
It didn't happen.

Every time my dad would decide it was time to recommence on the house... tragedy would strike. The first, was a heart attack. That put him out of commission for quite a while. Then talk started back, up, and plans were being made... then, when I was about 14, he was in an accident. He was mowing grass at the bottom of our long driveway, and a car came down the road as he was crossing it. It hit him, and shattered all the bone in his leg from his knee to his ankle. It was awful. In the hospital, he went into cardiac arrest, and actually flat-lined while my mom was in the room with him.
But The Big Guy upstairs was looking out for him...
and he made it though.

As the years went by, my dad suffered from a lot of other health problems. But no matter what, he always had an amazing work ethic,and spirit, and he never let go of his dream of remodeling the house. A couple years ago, he drew up revised plans, met with some contractors, and started the ball rolling again. It was exciting, because for the first time, I felt like I could see it actually happening.

But, in November of last year, they found cancer.
My dad immediately started a rigorous schedule of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. After months of treatments, they found that the tumor had actually disappeared! A miracle. But my dad had simply gone through too much, physically, and on the 21st of May he passed away at home. He left this world surrounded by his children and his wife. I was holding his hand, and I felt his spirit leave. I'll never forget that.

We all love my dad so much. And I've missed him more than I could have even expected over these last 7 months. This will be our first Christmas without him, and so I guess I'm a little emotional and a little reminiscent.

But he's always with me, now... and I know he's at peace.

... My mother, to the surprise of all has decided that she is going to see things through. She's finishing the house. They took my dad's plans, made a few minor changes for the better, and are in full swing. They've already finished with the demolition work, and have plans to be done by April!
I am happier than words!

I only wish I lived closer so I could document all of it for posterity. (My mom definitely doesn't know her way around a digital camera.) ...But I did manage to acquire a good photo of the house before...

And while I was there over Thanksgiving, I went inside it for the last time. I even swiped something. An old corner shelf that has lived in the house forever. I brought it home, and gave it a new happy life. It was in my old bedroom, and had been there for generations. Here t'is...

...And here's what I found on the backside. Hidden for so many decades. Someone must have used an old grape shipping crate to make it.

...Here's my little piece of home, newly installed. I like it.

...And I will hopefully be able to post some other pictures soon of the farmhouse's metamorphosis. I can't wait. It's such a beautiful place, and I am proud to say I grew up there.


Angela said...

wow, what an unbelievable turn of events. i'm sorry for your loss this year. how amazing that your mom is going to bring your dad's dreams to fruition, cant wait to see the progression of pics.

Peace be with you and your family this Christmas.

Jennifer Sewell said...

You tell it Sister!! Thank you for your homage to the homeplace and to our father, may he rest in peace...

You have an amazing way of putting thoughts into words better than anyone else I know.

Your words speak for me, as well.

Last week I dreamed that I looked out of the window of the trailer and saw the "lights on" in the "upstairs" of the farmhouse. It was night time and dad was up there working away, like we've known him to do all of our lives... The renovation was well underway and he was there, long after the other workers had gone home, diligently putting in his hours.

I believe that he is there... without a doubt.

Let us never forget how proud he was of that farm and what we have been taught about humility, hard work and family because we were privileged to grow up there.

I love you.

Christy Harrison said...

Thank you.
It was surprisingly hard to even write as much as I did about Dad. I've been having moments lately where I really do feel his presence. I know he's proud of the progress our family's making.


MisterSewell said...

What a great read. Your words are paint on canvas and that was a beautiful portait of farmhouse memories and of your Dad.
Banks took that photo just as your Mom was telling me all about the renovation that was starting just 2days later. I think he definitely shares some of Aunt and Mom's photography talents. On many past visits to the farm, I'd wander outside and gaze at the unfinished foundation and wonder what it would have looked like had his plans been seen through to completion. Soon, we'll all know first hand...what a blessing. Love, Rick

eitak said...

i love it! i am so happy for you and your family that mama faye is taking care of business! and i know that daddy steve is too! i love you all!!!!!!! and i cannot wait to see it finished. beautiful :)

Christy Harrison said...

As Paula Deen would say, "THANKS Y'ALL!"

homemade grits said...

Beautiful post. Such a bittersweet story. I'm looking forward to seeing the new farmhouse. Love you!

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