Dann Alexander remembers his childhood house
and his father’s presence.
For the majority of the first 20 years of my life, this was one of the places I called home. It was the first place I ever knew as a home. Even while living a 10 minute drive away on and off through my teens, this was known to me as a home.
In the last few months, there have been days where I have wanted to walk up to the entrance of this old house and hope that Dad would answer. Even knowing full-well that he would never be there again. I have wanted to walk in and put the kettle on, or grab a beer from the fridge, then rack up the table for a short best-of-seven series of 8-ball while spinning a few records. Or perhaps hear a classic old song with Dad singing lead and playing rhythm guitar. After which we would then pick up where we left off on our lifelong argument about proper guitar tuning.
Dad played guitar tuned a complete half step-down from standard tuning. For years he insisted it was the proper tuning. When we would play a few songs together it was always easy for me to adapt on the bass and just roll with it. I now have that great old guitar. Years ago during one of our discussions he said to me perhaps out of frustration, “One day when this thing is yours you can tune it exactly how YOU want it to.”
So I did.
Although you cannot see it in this top photo, to the left of the house stands a tall willow tree. For years I wondered if it should have at least been trimmed back. My thinking was that the damn thing is so tall that if a good wind were to pick it up it would literally fall completely on top of and over the house. I should be giving the tree population in general more credit. When the roots are as strong as the ones on this willow, you realize it’s probably not going anywhere.
Here you see part of the basement. This spaced was used as a practice area for hockey shots, an indoor bowling alley and a jam space. This space originally was used as a salon by the first owner of the home. She briefly ran some sort of operation right out of the basement. For those of you born after 2000, the phone you see is a rotary phone. These were the most common phones used for decades. When I went to the old house prior to cleaning it out, I was touring the basement with a friend. I explained to him that this phone had been here since day one. It still was running for a few years when we lived here but eventually the wires were snipped. It was crusted with dirt, dust and mildew from decades of being in this basement. The outside casing was smashed off with a croquet mallet.
This old house saw happy and hard times. It is in those happy times that a few more moments of peace have come from the grieving process. Being able to have this house organized so it would show well to potential buyers and exploring every part of it to remember the complete picture of what it was has been healing and helpful.
There are a thousand stories to tell that involve this old house. Maybe even a thousand more after that. I’ve spent many mornings over the last few weeks sorting through them and figuring out which ones to write and which ones to perhaps save for another day. Most of the stories I have been able to reflect and remember have been positive ones. Some of the best ones are worth telling, while some are worth saving for another day.
Good memories will always stand stronger than the foundation of any house. I expect that the new home owners will start writing their own chapters today as they take possession. I will miss it and the relative quiet of the community it sits in. So I happily let it go and bid this old house a bittersweet yet fond farewell.
The most valuable currency is not money, it is your life. So raise a glass and spend it all.