I spent the past week at Pine View Farm.
My father died about 11 1/2 months ago. My mother is not able to live by herself in a big old Southern farm house; she’s in a local Methodist home where many of her friends and my father’s older sister (93-years old) currently reside. My father’s last words to her were “Move to [the home].”
Shortly after moving there, she fell. It was a both a real and a metaphoric fall: all the events surrounding his death and funeral crashed in and pushed her down. She spent six months in the “Health Center” (the hospital wing) of the home, finally recovering to the point that she is once again in a room of her own in an assisted living mode.
Daddy said to us, “When the time comes, sell the house or rent it, but don’t let it sit empty.”
Empty houses are the ones that gradually turn grey, then fall down. All across the area where I grew up, you see houses turning grey–not a lot, but enough–turning grey and falling down, big old houses that no one lives in anymore.
Pine View Farm has been in the family for almost 100 years. The family has lived in the area for over 300 years.
We will not sell.
But neither of us is in a position to move back home–yet.
My brother and I were finally able to coordinate a time when we could go to the farm together, to clean up the house. At the end of each day, I was too tired to blog. I was too tired to do much of anything other than to spectate. And crash.
We sent three pick-up truck loads of stuff to Lighthouse Ministries.
We filled a roll-off dumpster with all kinds of old stuff. (Daddy never threw anything away–aways a farmer, even when he no longer farmed, he reckoned that anything could be recycled or reused in some form, for some project.)
We boxed up everything we want to keep in the family. The rest of the stuff is pending further decision.
We were referred to a local restaurant that both of us grew up with but that neither of us had ever visited, whose kitchen warrants four stars in any book. The scallops wrapped in bacon were worthy of the Hotel Dupont.
And we relived our past, each in our own way.
The place has changed over the years. There is no longer a regulation Little League diamond in the back yard; it has been replaced by a stand of pine trees and a flower garden.
The five pecan trees that bore through many years have all passed away, victims of old age or of lightning, but the fig trees seem ready to bear another bumper crop (my mother’s fig preserves were to die for, as were her watermelon rind pickles–things you just are not going to find in a Safeway or an Acme).
And the little magnolia tree has become a giant pile of huge leaves.
But the dogwoods still bloom in April, the roses still bear little red leaves, presaging blooms to come in May, and the corn still starts to poke out of the ground in the spring.