One day as my wife and I drove home, we noticed an old country house that we had watched deteriorate over the years had finally succumbed to the ravages of wind and time. The roof of the little old house caved in sometime after our last trip, and now formed a “V” that pointed down into the two small rooms that made up the little house. The home had overgrown with vines every summer, and we saw the doors and windows give up one by one. Something else we saw through the years was an older couple who came to the site now and then, apparently to relive for a little while the life they had experienced in the house. The last times we saw them they were not roaming around the house, but were sitting in their car talking and looking at the place, perhaps the walks had become too much for one or both of them.
I do not know the couple, but I do believe I know why they were there. They were drawing memories out of the house, where they had probably raised a family, and lived through a life together. They could probably still see the home the way it was all those years ago with the windows and doors solid barriers to the outside elements. They could see their children playing in the well groomed yard, as they grew to adulthood.
The old house must have been a place filled with joy, or they would not have visited it like they did. As a man of mature years myself, I know how they feel about a house where memories reside. I have written about some of the homes my family and I lived in as a boy and as a man. Unfortunately most of mine are gone now victims of age and the wrecker’s hammer. I drove by them for years as they housed other families piling their memories on top of mine, and now that they are gone I miss seeing them even in the bedraggled state they were in at the last. I am sure the couple who visited the old house we pass on our trips back and forth to Sedalia could not bear to tear the old house down, and even with the caved in roof the home still houses their memories. I have not seen them there for a few years now, and perhaps that is why the old house has appeared to finally give up. The couple may no longer need the memories. A house is just so much lumber to those of us who pass by old houses, and only note their condition; but to those who filled it with memories it is the place they lived through times good and bad, a place they laughed and cried, and a place of love, that they will always call home. One thing that remains around the fallen home is the flowers. The Jonquils still bloom each spring, and I like to think about that old couple planting those when the house and they were young.
Jack Miller is a longtime Sedalia resident whose column will run in the Weekend edition of the Democrat.