By Bruce Stambaugh
By the time you read this, my wife and I will be settling into our new old home in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. We’re excited about the change as we enter the autumn of our lives.
We’ll do our best to keep in touch with our friends and relatives in Ohio and elsewhere. They have been the fibers that helped stitch our lives together.
Of course, we will miss our old home, too. It served us well for 38 years. That’s a long time by today’s standards where Americans move on average of 11 times.
When we bought our home in eastern Holmes County, it was as young in housing as we were in parenting. The house was unfinished and budding, like our two and four-year-olds. Neva and I had been married eight years.
That old house helped us raise our daughter and our son from toddlers into productive young adults. It served as ground zero for my amazing wife to hone her effusive hospitality skills.
Our former home holds more memories good and bad than I can recall. But it knows. The house’s walls harbor nearly four decades of our personal saga.
The house has a beautiful setting that we so enjoyed. We had excellent views of our Amish country surroundings. We could see five miles north to Wayne County. To the east, explosive sunrises stirred our bodies and our souls into another day. To the west, sunsets often thrilled us far beyond their beauty. To the south, our road still looked like an Olympic ski slope as it curved up, then flattened out, and then quickly back down past our house.
The property itself was a sanctuary. People often complimented Neva on her annuals and perennials that kept the old place bathed in colors spring to late fall.
The many trees and shrubs I planted matured, providing habitats for wildlife I never could have imagined. The skunks and raccoons could have found other homes though. The many birds, however, were always welcome.
The old house endured many storms over all the seasons and years as Nature used her full arsenal. Deep snows, large hail, six different lightning strikes, damaging winds, earthquakes, and the severe ice storm of late December 2004 pounded away. They all altered the property but could not subdue it.
The most memorable events though weren’t earth shattering at all. They were the everyday, common occurrences. Crackling fires in the fireplace on a cold winter’s night; sleepovers; the productive, magical hum of Neva’s sewing machine; both planned and impromptu visits from friends, neighbors, and church youth groups, and the whoosh of chimney swifts that rattled the glass fireplace doors only begin the recollections.
None of those, however, can hold a candle to the memories of the grandkids. They were mesmerized by the clop, clop, clop of horse and buggies trotting by, rosy-cheeked from snowball fights and sled rides, giddy with wonder and excitement on Christmas morning.
After all, the grandchildren are the main reason we uprooted ourselves from all that we have been. They are the reason we will settle into new routines, new roles, and our new home in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley.
Time is short. Neva and I have chosen to fill our elder days with the activities, joys, and disappointments, competitions and achievements of our progeny’s children.
Those will be the sights and sounds, fragrances and satisfactions of all our days ahead, however many or few they may be. Perhaps those memories will be just as sweet, if not sweeter than those generated by that old Holmes County house we called home.
They will not, they cannot replace them.
We wish the new owners well and hope their memories are as fruitful, meaningful, and lasting as ours.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2017