05 December 2009

Final Visit to the Farm

This morning, as I type, the contents of my grandparents' farm are being auctioned in preparation for the farm's closing next week. I've written a previous post or two about my memories of the farm, and now I'm sharing some photos and thoughts from my very last visit to the farm...even now as the auction proceeds.

It was a sunny and bittersweet day in November. Mom and I drove down the lane to a quiet and empty farm, devoid of a dog to announce our presence, cars to tell us who had arrived before us, or a smiling face opening the back door to welcome us in before we'd even stopped the car. Clearly, my last visit to the farm as I knew it had already passed.

It was surprisingly easy to walk through the house for the last time because, while I have so many memories there, it looked nothing like the place of my memories. Much of the furniture was gone. Days and days had been spent emptying 55 years of accumulation onto tables. What remained were knickknacks, dolls, old Christmas trees, pots and pans, and other miscellaneous accumulation that had not been claimed by anyone in the family.

The barn, on the other hand, brought back a load of memories that I'd forgotten I even had. It had been years since I'd been inside the barn. My family has put in a tremendous amount of work sorting through the contents of the barn. In the process, they uncovered things I had completely forgotten about, like the yellow banana seat bike that always stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's. I used to ride it up and down the lane with Rocky, the Golden Retriever, following at my side. Oh, yes - I loved that bike.

Even though I don't remember riding in the sleigh, I remember the sleigh always sitting in the barn waiting to be used. Like the bike, it has seen better days, but aren't the majestic shapes of the sleigh and of its bells beautiful?

Speaking of beautiful, I love to see Grandpa's tack hanging in the barn:

On the top floor of the barn, it was like time stood still. The rope I remember swinging on as a kid is still there. (And I'm still terrified of swinging on it.)

The basketball court, where so many family tournaments were played, looks ready for a game that's never going to be played.

Grandpa's sign (to himself) and a half pile of hay are ready for another round of farm animals.

All too soon, we needed to leave the farm to pick up Grandma and Grandpa for our lunch date, which meant it was time to say one last goodbye. We followed Grandpa's directions to close the door, buckled our seat belts, and drove out the long driveway for the last time.

Of all the times when I have lost tears thinking about the end of our family's time at the farm, this was, surprisingly, not one of those. I didn't cry because, next week, a new family is going to start building its own book of memories at the farm. The neighbor's son has purchased the farm and will be living and farming the land with his family. Soon, a new family will learn that the steep steps into the dining room are perfect for sliding on one's behind or for getting a Slinky to go from the top to the bottom without stopping. Some new kids will carve their initials into the trees beside the aging carvings of "ALK" and "KLM." A new family will appreciate the beauty of watching the sun rise and set from the back porch. Maybe the new family will even plant their first Christmas tree and watch it grow over the years. Yes, our family has had a phenomenal run on the farm, and I feel good about the fact that it is now going to be loved by another family.

I also couldn't cry leaving the farm because we're not losing what really matters: the memories and the people who made it possible. I'm reminded of the Brad Paisley song Two People Fell In Love that talks about generations of happiness and success all because two people fell in love. We're so lucky that we still get to enjoy the company of the two people who fell in love and made our family possible.

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