As I write to you now there is a chainsaw raging just outside my window.
And it has been for the last few hours.
I was so looking forward to sleeping in today, but as the sun awoke this morning, so began another day of construction and the slow destruction of what used to be the neighborhood I grew up in.
What was once a few small houses hidden from the street is slowly losing the war against one’s desire to expand an already massive parking lot. A fight we have all been fighting for many years.
To give you some background, every family occupying this neighborhood has been here since the tiny village of Roscoe began. In most cases, all of these houses have been passed down from generation to generation. To us, maintaining that close nit small town feeling is not just important, but it is tradition.
For example, my house was originally the home of my great grandmother. She raised her six children here.
When she passed, my grandparents purchased the house and made it their own. My grandfather expanded the main house, put up a two car detached garage and built a customized woodworking shop out back.
As most of you know, my grandparents raised me through my high school years, when my mother disappeared yet again. Up until that point, I had never lived in one place more than a year or two at most.
This was the first time in my life where I truly felt secure in knowing it wasn’t just temporary . I was finally able to take a breath, relax and settle in.
When most people step through the door, it is just another house, but to me it is so much more.
Every corner is a memory and every memory a reminder of the unwavering love my grandparents not only shared with one another, but for me as well.
Every morning when I walk down those same steps I did as a teenager, I can almost see the two of them still sitting at the kitchen table. A view I never thought I would miss as much as I do.
For me, this house is what helps to keep their memory alive. And not just the house, but the whole property. From the lilacs my great grandmother planted in the front yard to the lingering smell of saw dust in my grandfather’s shop, it is a familiarity that in times of distress it is all that gets me through.
And that is just my story. Each neighboring house is filled with its own set of memories and traditions. All of which, we as their residents will fight to preserve at all costs.
It is a way for us to feel close to those we have lost and in our own way to make them proud by carrying on in their absence.
Over the last few years, an entity that I will not name just yet has been on a mission to take over our neighborhood and expand what is already an over excessive amount of occupied space.
As time passes and generations end, they have tried their best to scoop up any house that goes on the market. First it was the house just across from mine, which happened when my grandfather was still living.
What was once a cute little red house surrounded by trees became pavement and the ability to see our house from the main road an impending reality.
When my grandfather passed the house along to me, my neighbor came over to fill me in on what he knew of this entity’s future plans. He told me that when the elderly woman down the street had passed, they tried to purchase the property at half the asking price with the plans of burning it down and you guessed it…adding more pavement. Seeing as this would basically put both of our houses in the middle of a parking lot, he purchased the house before they were able to make a deal with the family.
We agreed that neither of us would ever sell and if for any reason we came to a place where we had to, that we would let one another know first to keep them from having the option to scoop it up. I assured him there was no way I was going to be selling this house as I had made a promise to my grandfather the year before he passed that I never would.
Not to mention how hard I had to fight for it, but that is a story for another day.
We sat together at the kitchen table as he begged me with tears in his eyes to keep this house. He said he wanted me to find someone to share it with as they did. To carry on the tradition as they had. It was a moment that will forever be etched in my mind.
Seeing the strongest man I knew that vulnerable absolutely broke my heart. He loved my grandmother so much, the kind of love I think we all long for. And they had it.
This house wasn’t just special to him because it was her family home. It was where he felt he was finally able to give her all that she deserved. Every corner in the kitchen was customized to her liking. Except that the counters are a little lower than she wanted, something she always joked with him about.
It was the place where he was able to make her visions a reality. “Handcrafted with love”, he would say.
Not only that, but this was also the place where they grew old together.
And it was at that very kitchen table where she told him, she didn’t want to fight for her life anymore.
At that end of my grandmother’s life, she was taking so much medication that she couldn’t keep anything down except bread and milk. She had very little energy and was dizzy most of the time which prevented her from doing much of anything.
So, a few days before my 21st birthday, after her talk with grandpa, she decided to stop taking her medication and let nature take it’s course.
Could you imagine, the person you have spent the last 60+ years with coming to you and basically telling you they have made the choice to end their life? It must have been so hard for him to support her in doing that, but he did. Even in the end, he put his needs behind hers.
That kind of love doesn’t come around every day.
I was living in Seattle at the time, but was planning to fly back two days after my birthday to see them.
The call came just several days shy of my original departure date, which was now the day of her funeral.
I walked through the door that day to a broken man. And the days that followed were even more painful, but we powered through it. Here, in this house, together.
So now you can understand why selling this house, at least for me, is not an option and I know I am not alone. As I mentioned before, it is a feeling that echoes the neighborhood.
Which is why most of us were not concerned when one of our neighbors decided to sell. This entity originally offered her something insulting like $25,000 for a property that is worth well over $100,000 and she of ‘course said no. They then tried pressuring her, as they have done with many other properties they have consumed, by stating that she would be doing a good service to her community by selling.
The house sat empty for a few months after they moved out their final items, but a sign never popped up.
Then it began…
Just to give you an idea…My house is located directly behind this entity’s parking lot. This property stretches the full length from our street (we share a dead end) all the way to the main road. My neighbor’s lot was filled with trees, some over 100 years old. The yard dips down from the street and the house is set towards the back of the property, so that it is 10-20 feet from the property line we share.
Over the last few months, they have stripped the house down to its bare bones in preparation for a controlled burn. All the trees from the house to the main street have almost been cleared, giving a clear view of my house from the main road. And now they are working to level the land in order to…Yup! Expand their parking lot!!
And here is where it gets a bit controversial, although it need not be. You see this has nothing to do with religion, which is why I saved this until the end.
I wanted you to hear the story without your opinion being swayed by the knowledge of said culprit.
The entity in question is a church. Does that change your opinion?