The House that Built Me

The little green house sat beside the road for as long as I can remember… Quietly… There was never too much going on, but it was easy to tell its occupants loved it. A beautiful garden beside it told me that someone had a green thumb and didn’t mind to work… But I’m not sure I ever saw the family that lived there, unless it was the elderly lady mowing the lawn…


Years rolled by and the size of the garden decreased and then disappeared all  together. Emily became acquainted with the family through her emergency response… A man and lady, and their adult handicapped daughter. The couple was called Home fairly close together and the daughter was placed in a home, thus ending the chapter.

A “For Sale” sign showed up in the front yard, and my parents inquired about it, and basically fell through an open door. And before we knew it- my parents were the excited owners of a 1931 Sears and Roebuck house, needing some repairs. I laughed at the fact that we now have our own “thirty-one” house.

So we are in the process of breathing new life into this house. Integrity Builders are doing a wonderful job and it’s really exciting. But it’s a little sad too. As I watched the process of removing the roof and adding a half story, I grieved a little for that daughter and all those memories… And took a trip down my memory’s lane… You’re welcome to join me 😉

The House That Built Me -Tom Douglas Allen Shamblin

I know they say you can’t go home again
I just had to come back one last time
Ma’am, I know you don’t know me from Adam
But these hand prints on the front steps are mine

Up those stairs in that little back bedroom
Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar
And I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
My favorite dog is buried in the yard

Mama cut out pictures of houses for years
From ‘Better Homes and Garden’ magazines
Plans were drawn and concrete poured
And nail by nail and board by board
Daddy gave life to mama’s dream

You leave home, you move on
And you do the best you can
I got lost in this whole world
And forgot who I am

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

If I could walk around, you know I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me


Our “old house” was so old- no one knew when it was built. “They” said pre- Revolutionary War, but when we tore it down, they said that judging from the type of saw blade that cut the lumber, it was a lot newer than that- maybe pre- Civil War… But regardless, it was on old house. It didn’t have a basement, but it had an “old part” that had been added later. A faulty foundation caused it to be uninhabitable… We just stored stuff out there and Julia and I had a blast creating trails through the boxes and rollerblading for hours. We had a loop figured out that ran from the old part, across the back porch and around Mother’s kitchen table. As long as we went the same consistent speed, we’d meet at the two designated meeting spots and could sail past without slowing down at all. How Mother kept her sanity with her wild Indian daughters is beyond me…


Julia and I shared a bedroom and it overlooked a grape arbor, until one year spray drifted from the corn field and killed the grapes… But many nights, we would watch the same annoying possum stealing our grapes. Or at one point, we had a system going to transport things from the outside up the side of the house into our room… Julia also had a flag system worked up with one of the neighbors girls who was milking at our barn so they’d know when each other was around… Or occasionally we’d climb out on the back porch roof to watch the stars…

We had two staircases,both enclosed, with a spiral in them that made moving furniture upstairs quite an art… But on very special occasions, Father would play “ghost in the graveyard” with us… which was kind of a game of hide and seek/tag… And we would thunder up one set of stairs and tear down the other, shrieking as we went… Again about Mother’s sanity… Those were good days…

The day came when the “old house” was replaced by our current residence. While we were sad to say “good-bye”, we discovered the floor joist were about to break through thanks to termite activity.. So it was time. This place is chock full of memories as well… Soft pretzel parties, ping pong tournaments, shindigs… Turning off all the lights in the house, except the one outside, and all of the family hanging out in the living room, watching the snow fall… The sound of Julia slamming the door and running for the barn… Or Deborah calling her dog… Or the tones dropping at any hour and Emily’s feet hitting the floor and running to save the day… Mother’s sewing machine humming a thousand mile an hour… Father’s animated cell phone conversations…


But when it comes down to it- it’s not the house that matters. If I were on a quest to find what shaped me- pretty sure it wouldn’t be found in that pile of bricks and yellow pine mantles that’s all that is left from our old house… Nor in the cedar siding and windows of our new place… Instead I think it’d be in the time spent with the ones I hold so dear… As I go through my memories, it’s the people in it that play all the parts… Life isn’t perfect. But, by the grace of God,we have love and the ability to laugh.. And that makes the difference.





2 thoughts on “The House that Built Me

  1. We have lots of good memories from both of your homes, thanks to the hospitality of the people that live there.
    You all look so perfect in that last picture. It almost looks like a painting.

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