"Snippet" -- a small piece or brief extract
To Love a House. . . .
1992 -- the house we now call home was up for sale to be moved. We had only been married 3 years. Financially, we were struggling. It was not the time to buy a house. It was certainly not the time to buy a fixer-upper that had to be moved. It was definitely not the time to buy a fixer-upper that had to be taken apart to be moved -- and then put back together.
However, as sure as we were in love with each other, we fell in love with this house. Built in 1882, she was sturdy and full of character and beautiful architectural detail. She had 2 floors and was being used for a real estate office. She was just around the corner from the library where I was working. Shane met me there during lunch maybe? I honestly don't remember. I do remember when I opened the door, I had visions of Christmas. . . .the door opens directly into the stairway and the living room, so when the door opened, I could see (in my mind's eye) -- beautiful garland cascading down the mahogany stair rail. And as the stair wall angled to the left to carry one up, it left a beautiful angled wall that begged for a piano. It was perfect (in my mind's eye. . .) A huge kitchen and big bedrooms, a gorgeous room with a bay window would make a perfect library. . . .Shane was just as smitten as I was, and the cost? A mere $2,000!!!!!! This was the fodder of dreams!
My parents came and looked at it and tried to talk us down with all the talk of hours of work and labor and hardship and idiosyncracies of old houses -- with the talk of cost of moving the house and putting it back together and so much more. We were not to be talked down. We were in love -- with each other, with the house and with the bright future that was waiting on us. Young, naive, and idealistic -- yes, that was us.
Shane's aunt had us pegged to receive about a $20,000 inheritance when she died, and she was in her 90s at the time. So dear Aunt Earle gave us our inheritance early so that we could purchase this home of our dreams.
Dreams became nightmares over the next 3 years as we strove -- largely unsuccessfully -- to put the house back in working order. They had to literally take their chainsaws and cut the whole upper half of the upstairs off. They also used chainsaws to disconnect my kitchen from the rest of the house! She was roofless and in pieces. . . . When they moved the house it was rainy season and the house literally bogged down in the field that would become our yard. The corner of my sweet house sat jutted into the road for a few days until it dried enough to continue the move. As a 2300 sq foot house, she was not designed as a mobile home, and she had already been moved once when she was a much younger house. We barely had enough money to purchase, move and get the roof back on the house. We struggled over the next few years, making improvements as we could afford to -- which was negligible. It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer. There were so many challenges.
October will make 28 years ago that we bought this beautiful old home and made her ours. The struggle has been so long and so real. This spring brought the pandemic and stay at home orders. It brought the cancellation of a few trips for us. It brought stimulus checks. It brought anxiety and stress, but it also brought forced time at home and extra money in our bank account. So we have spent the Spring and Summer and all the money we didn't spend in gas and travel and eating out in addition to the stimulus money and we have gotten so much done. It has felt so lovely and promising and this is the first time in 28 years that our upstairs will be a finished living space instead of unfinished storage.
There have been moments -- and hours and weeks and years when we wished we had done things differently. There have been challenges right and left (You can read about some of them in my earlier post about keeping a level head). It has been hard on levels that Mama and Daddy didn't even KNOW to tell us (in addition to all the ways they were right. . . .) It is not the path most would have chosen. It has not been an easy path -- more like one of those winding, climbing mountain trails where you have to fight for every step and help each other along.
There is still more work to be done. It may very well NEVER be finished. It will perhaps always be a WORK IN PROGRESS. However, through it all, I think I still would have chosen just the same -- for all its unlevelness, idiosyncracies, character flaws, and challenges, I would still choose this sweet house that we have made into a home, because that is what LOVE does. It chooses -- over and again -- in spite of difficulty -- in spite of hardship. It chooses to love every day in spite of it all.
Amanda Bible Worley
7/30/2020 11:56:59 am
How well I remember your decision and your struggle. I, too, wondered if & when it would finally be the family home you could see in your dreams.I think you have made it!
8/2/2020 12:38:29 pm
Tonnye this was a very moving blog. I read it aloud to Earl. Your house is a home. I loved being there the one time we scored YA projects. We too know the work and cost with our own home. We often say we could have built a house with all the work, remodeling, and money but we too would have it no other way. We love our home too. Thank you for sharing yours and Shane’s story. The writing is beautiful!
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I've been a teacher of K-3 students for over 20 years; I'm also a writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and picture books. I'm wife to an amazing husband and mom to Sparkles, Mocha, and Rusty -- our feline fur babies . I love reading, writing, singing and listening to music. I enjoy nature, Bible study and spending time with friends and family!
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