This is a peice about my mom and dad’s house in Gainesville – many of you who I know or are family of course have been inside its walls.
To Roger and Jane…
My mom and dad bought their house in Gainesville when I was in high school. It was a spacious four bedroom home. Later they turned the two smaller bedrooms into one large one, which was your aunt’s room, making it three. The patio was enclosed and turned into a playroom with a pool table for Granddad – there are stories about him being a “pool shark” at Buzzie’s Pool Hall in Valley View. And finally the beloved pool was added along with the storeroom outside which MeeMaw called Granddad’s “dog house”. So by the time you two came into the world that wonderful house had the features that made it special for us all.
MeeMaw and Granddad many times took you home with them for the weekend. Sometimes all of us would go there including theholidays. We did a lot things there many of which I have detailed in this work. Regardless of what we did there the house itself was the stage those events were acted out upon.
Besides the major features of the place the exterior itself had some interesting things. One of the most memorable was the vegetable garden in the southwest side of the yard. Granddad and MeeMaw would toil endlessly in it to produce much of the food that adorned the table in warm parts of the year. They took you out to it many times to watch them pick veggies and also pull the weeds. One thing I helped Granddad do was spreading chicken shit for fertilizer and tilling up the dirt. I never liked working in a garden, I hated it when I was a kid and hated it then too. But you kids loved being out there since you only saw the fun side of it with your ever loving grandparents. And we all liked the veggies too.
The house itself was a Spanish style structure with a red tile roof and a white brick veneer. That was something I never expected MeeMaw to like since she liked contemporary things so much. The house had a long driveway to the garage and a circular driveway at the front. That is where we always parked when we were there. That drive had a ring of large cactus bordering it too. Do you remember the story of me running over one when I was in college when it was icy outside? The final touch of the outside veneer was that the house was up on a hill west of town on a one acre lot. From the front you could see Elm creek, the park with the zoo, and parts of town. It was in town but it did not look that way.
As far as the inside décor went, MeeMaw’s love of contemporary themes was all over the house. From the abstract paintings to the sectional divan which she still has. There were stained wood walls and the carpet was a medium hue. Such things would be seen as outdated now but then it was considered cool.
One thing that sticks in my mind about that beloved house was me and Granddad’s bathroom. He and I shared one and MeeMaw and your aunt had the other. That room had a light green tile and counter plus a window looking north to the Tinsley’s house and yard next door. When I was grown I would go to the bathroom and look out that window before I left. For whatever reason, that scene was something calm and relaxing to behold. It gave me a bit of comfort that only being home can give.
After Granddad died MeeMaw decided to sell the house and move near your aunt and I. I remember when she sold it and everything was out of the house. The things in it were gone but my head was still filled with the memories of them. Even so with the ache of losing that happy abode I found a small bit of solace the last day we were there. We were all about to leave and head back south and I went back into all of the rooms and looked around at the emptiness and bare walls. The absence of Granddad made that void more profound. The last room I went inside was me and Granddad’s bathroom. I entered it, went to the bathroom, and like so many times before I looked out the little window to the north and felt that everything was OK. For a short time I was far away from that moment and back in happier days when we were all there and things were good. Coming back to the reality of the present I turned and went out to the car to drive back to Fort Worth. I still remember how that brief moment of peace made me feel good on that sad day when we all felt loss.
We should all have such a home in our hearts to shelter us regardless of where we reside in our lives. That house – and the Monterrey house too – are those places for me. Over time you too will have those places and moments as life and its ever present chaos swirls around your head. You may wish you were safe back at home as places and people both dearly loved fade away. So as you age remember them well since they are part of what paved the road of your life’s drive to its present address in the infinite neighborhood of existence.