This isn’t the first time it’s happened–but it will likely be the last. And I suppose that makes it different, harder, odd. My Mom and Pop are selling their farm. And why shouldn’t they…they’re both past 80 now. When they bought it several years back, there were only two grandchildren. I don’t know why I feel so shaken by this. After all, I never lived there. They moved to this farm after my husband and I had been married almost 10 years. But so much of our family story is perked into that spot of ground, it’s been hard watching the Realtor sign go up next to the mailbox.
They love to tell the story of how they came around a bend in this old, barely paved country road and followed a long line of overgrown orchards mixed in with native trees. They passed over a one-lane bridge and came up a hill past the biggest Sycamore tree in Indiana. Suddenly, there, with the Sycamore standing vigil, the woods opened up and a meadow became visible. It sloped downward toward a barn lot on a gentle rolling hillside. Uphill, the tall meadow grasses and overgrown pear, apple and cherry trees hid the eaves of an old, long abandoned house.
They looked at each other and nodded. They carefully steered their city sedan up what was left of a gravel drive–more like a natural gully made by a hundred years of neglect and summer showers. Tiger Lilys grew wild, poking their fiery orange and speckled brown heads up above the wild Timothy hay. The well-house had long ago blown over in a forgotten storm, but the pump-head still stood, with the handle only lightly rusted. They looked at each other again, and stepped out into the knee deep weeds, grass and wildflowers.
The old house looked a bit ragged. It seemed the barn had fared better. The way it was sited on the hillside had probably given it some breaks against the weather. But the old house stood tall and straight. It had been built by a Quaker family in 1857 the farmer had told them. No one had lived in it for over 50 years, except an occasional Mama Coon raising her kits. It hadn’t been painted for much longer than that. At some point a porch had been added, then fallen away and removed again. So that’s how it stood, looking so plain-faced and sturdy.
My parents said they looked at each other again and smiled. My dad said–“Just looks like a Grandma and Grandpa farm doesn’t it?” they shook hands with the farmer and officially bought it the next week.
The Grand-kid population kept growing over the years, and regular weekend visits to the country were always a favorite treat. Where else could you go fishing, talk to a cow, climb a tree full of Bumblebees and cherries or walk along manger walls to the hay-rope and pretend you were a circus performer? All the flowers in sight were grown just to be picked by eager little hands, and the crop of barn kittens was an unending rainbow of variety.
So, I hope that the next family who buys it understands it for the treasure trove of childhood entertainments that it is. Maybe then they can overlook the uneven floor boards or the agony of the electrical and phone lines failing for days on end during an ice-storm or heavy snow. It’s time for Grandma and Grandpa to move on. The children are all Great Grandchildren now, and the farm is too much to keep up with. But it sure was fun mowing that grass–all 7 acres. The other 25 or so were for the big tractor