Going home not so easy
They say there is a lot of difference between a house and a home.
But when the house was your home, it's hard to separate it out.
I had driven by months ago, during the fall. The house my father and mother had built in west Murray in 1954 looked nothing like it had when they were alive. Some of the windows were broken out and the front screen door was hanging by one hinge. The garage door, which I could hardly lift as a boy because it was so heavy, was laying half cocked with one side hanging down. The inside of where my dad used to park his 1959 Rambler was full of garbage. Worst of all the lawn was dead and weeds grew six feet high in the front yard.
I was sure my dad must have been turning over in his grave.
A year before that I had gone by and I noticed that there was no one living there and a big sign hung in the front window. I stopped to look. I walked up to the front porch and peered through the window. Whoever had owned it by that time had taken all the paneling my parents had put up in the 1970's off the wall and all that was showing was old sheetrock with glue marks on it. The hardwood floors I had played so many years on with my trucks and cars, was bare; laying there after years of being covered by carpet my mother had struggled so hard to get on them when I was a teenager. My dad couldn't undertand the need for a softer covering after living with the floors the way they were for so long.
The sign in the window said the house was in foreclosure and that trespassers would be prosecuted. I guess I was trespassing so I left and didn't go in the back yard to look around. I wished I had, but on the other hand maybe not.
In November of last year an old friend of mine who grew up down the street gave me a call one morning. In the last 40 years he has become a successful realtor in Salt Lake and when my father passed away in 2006, and I had to sell the house he was the one that helped me put it on the market and we sold it pretty fast.
"Rick, I thought I would call and tell you that your mom and dad's house is gone," he said. "They leveled it in the last couple of weeks and scraped the lot clean. I can't believe it."
I was in shock. Apparently after the last time I driven by it had been broken into and turned into a lair for drug addicts. The city had apparently told the bank that owned it to either fix it and get it occupied or to get rid of it.
They chose the latter.
It was my parents castle and now it was gone. My mother and dad saved for the first 15 years of their marriage so they could pay cash for that house; about $12,000 worth in 1954. We had lived in a 100 year old house on our farm before that, but I could barely remember that house. This little house of 900 square feet on 700 West in Murray had been the only home I had known until I moved out when I was 20.
It's hard for me to imagine that someone was shooting up in the room where I played with my toys, read comic books and had good times with friends. Or in the room where I played my Beach Boy records and dreamed of the car I would own one day. It was where I thought my young and special thoughts and hid from the world.
But it was happening and I guess something needed to be done about it.
So last Friday, after leaving the Utah State Capitol having spent the day there working on legislative issues and attending meetings I drove down to where it used to stand. I stood across the street from that third of an acre that my parents owned, that they fought so hard to get and then build upon. Tears ran down my face as all I saw that was familiar was the huge old cottonwood tree that hung over the ditch on the side of the property where my rope swing used to sway over the water and where friends and I climbed high up into its branches almost daily during summers in the 1960s.
It was a shock. The lot seemed much smaller looking at it. And the ditch where I played so often in the water, it is gone. I guess they piped it.
I took a couple of cell phone photos, and got in the car and drove away. What will happen to the lot now, situated between two very large houses is anyones guess. It doesn't look big enough in my estimation to put up one of the gargantuan homes that they put in such places today.
One day something will be built on it, or maybe one of the neighbors on one side or the other will buy it and add it to their yard. I actually hope that is what happens, because that will be easier to take than having a new fancy brick home put on it.
Yes going home is not easy, especially when your house was your home, and it is now only a memory.