Monday, November 18, 2013

Bradshaw Lane

I've been a little MIA on the interwebs lately.  It seems that the stress of selling Mom's house has caught up with my body and I'm still fighting a week long cold.  As I shared some of my last few weeks with someone today, it's no wonder that I'm sick... my body just couldn't keep going at the pace I was pushing it.  So I'm going to allow myself to slowly process where we've been and where we're going.  For now, I'll share with you the note I left the owners of Mom's new place.  Warning: it's lengthy...  And a bit sappy.
Congratulations on your new house!  I hope that it quickly becomes your home and that you fall in love with 11 Bradshaw Lane like we did.  Not to force my story upon you, but I thought I would tell you a bit about it’s history...

My parents bought the house from Walt and Becky McCullough in the early 70’s.  I’m not sure if Walt and Becky were the original owners.  One of their 3 children, Natalie, was my Sunday School teacher when I was in Middle School and shared with me which of her siblings had what bedroom.

My brother, Chris, was a toddler when they moved from Woodfin and I was brought home from the hospital to my bedroom (the one beside the master) in December of 1975.  I never had another home growing up- nor did I ever switch bedrooms.  I left Candler for college in 1994, and only came home a few summers after that.  Around 2000, Mom turned my room into a den.  (My brother’s room- the one beside the hall bathroom- stayed a bedroom during our tenure here.  Not that I’m bitter or anything.)

My Daddy was responsible for the fabulous backyard at your new home.  He landscaped the steps- I often played wedding there and dreamed of my own backyard wedding.  I ended up not getting married there, but as you watch the light come in through the trees in the mornings, you’ll see why I was enraptured by the beauty of the woods.  He put in a hammock- complete with a spotlight which would be blinding to unsuspecting teenagers, and which only was turned on if a “warning” needed to be shared.  The swings he built were my respite- and I still would swing on them even through high school.  The Pièce de résistance in the yard, though, is the treehouse.  My Daddy and Papaw built that around 1980.  I helped by bringing them glass after glass of grape Kool-aid.  My brother and I played in it, my Daddy escaped to it, and it became a sought out location for (only the bravest of friends) summertime sleepovers- complete with spiders.

The house itself is full of great rooms and wonderful memories.  The room beside my brother’s was our Playroom that became a Computer Room that became a sort of Guest Room later in life.  My Mom worked in I.T., so were were one of the first families to have a PC at home.  My brother’s friends monopolized that during their visits.  I spent hours developing my skills on King’s Quest and Frogger, then later began using the computer to type letters to my pen pal in Wisconsin and as I toyed with my growing love affair of writing.

Mom and Daddy’s room housed a king sized bed which all 4 of us would pile on during special Saturday mornings.  Daddy would bring our portable black and white TV from the kitchen, put it on their dresser, adjust the antenna, and we’d watch Bugs Bunny while snuggled beneath their green blankets.  It was under those same blankets- and any others we could get our hands on- where Mom and I burrowed deep during the Blizzard of 93.  Our house was without power for days and got ridiculously cold.  (And boring.)  Ultimately, we were taken by sled (with the help of neighbors) to a nearby house on Monte Vista with a generator so that I could have a breathing treatment... and the best dinner of Shake and Bake chicken that I’ve ever eaten.  Nearly a week of canned peaches and Ritz crackers will make Shake and Bake taste like a 5-star meal.

The bathroom in the Master was Daddy’s- his smell of cologne, hair spray, and (gasp!) cigarettes is one that will bring tears to my eyes when I catch it now at certain bars.  (For the record, he started smoking outside in about 1983 when my pulmonary specialist “suggested” that maybe smoking around his highly asthmatic daughter wasn’t the best idea.)  When he moved out in 1989, Mom took over the bathroom and the scent changed to one of Ultima II makeup, Windsong powder, and Vaseline lotion.  

Mom had the bathrooms redone shortly after Daddy left.  Those bizarre low and quiet toilets were all the rage in 1990.  My friends loved coming in the bathroom and just flushing to watch it work.  My brother and I shared the hall bathroom at that point- I had the drawers on the right, his were on the left.  Our bathroom began to smell of curling irons and crimpers, Rave hairspray, LA Looks gel, and whatever girlie perfume was popular in that moment.  Chris left for college in 1991, so his scent never had a chance to permeate that room like all of the ones I enlisted to make my high school years perfect.

And speaking of those teen years, the downstairs den was the ideal location not only for sleepovers, but for tucking away with boyfriends in hopes not to be seen from upstairs.  There was only one spot where we could hide completely, so that was the spot we best not be in as Mom walked by on her security patrols upstairs.  I spent hours down there watching Monty Python with friends, watching my first presidential debates, and sitting by the fireplace on snow days.  Not to mention the time out on the patio porch swing- the exact location of silly homemade videos with best friends or stolen kisses with boys I haven’t seen in 20 years.

Our living room and dining room were revered in our family to be “special” rooms just for company.  We spent time in there on holidays or whenever we had visitors.  Our Christmas tree went front and center in the living room’s window and I spent tons of time mesmerized by it’s lights and by the train that encircled it’s base.  As we got older, we were “allowed” more time in those rooms and I enjoyed feeling so grown up as I would sit and read in the living room.  The one exception made when I was younger was that I was allowed in to practice piano.  Which I still wish I had listened to my mother and not stopped taking lessons.  

The woods surrounding the house lend themselves to unlimited exploration and enjoyment all throughout my childhood.  In the spring, little red berries and purple violets appeared to take over and bring life back from a dark winter.  Chris and I picked flowers, played spy, and developed our own Terabithia within the walls of the limbs.  We ran through the field behind the house and played in the creek- furthering my love of nature and developing my “non-wussy-girl” status among the neighborhood boys.  We explored and played together in the spring, summer, and fall and sledded together through the winter.

And speaking of winter- one quick suggestion: My Daddy planted bamboo as a privacy barrier between our house and the one next door.  On snowy days, the bamboo will bow down under the weight of snow and ice.  It’s beyond a pain to lift each stalk and pull your car out, but without that, the bamboo will break.  I’d suggest cutting it back before it turns so cold you have to deal with that inconvenience.  

I hate that because of the later stages of my Mom’s illness and her departure from the house that the “grounds” weren’t presented to you in their best state.  While the house is wonderful, the yard and woods will cause you to fall in love with your home.  I hope that as the Easter Bush blooms this spring and you are able to entertain on the deck, you’ll see glimpses of all of the egg hunts and cookouts and parties and memories as they float around you.

And my room.  While now the closet space leaves a lot to be desired, back in the day there was nothing I didn’t like about my room.  I apologize if the door isn’t in the best shape- it was slammed many times in teenage angst.  It was covered in bumper stickers (Ollie North for President!) and posters (Michael Jackson and Michael J. Fox to name a few.)  It was my respite from parents who didn’t understand me, from parents who separated, from a brother who annoyed his little sister, and an escape to spend hours on the phone with friends.  It was where I sat and journaled and read.  Where I laid in bed sick.  Where I grew up.  And before all that it was where I would climb up on my green toybox and look out the window waiting for Daddy to come home for lunch- a midweek treat.  I’d open the window all summer long (you’ll note that air conditioning only arrived a few years ago) and smell the scent of the woods and hear the call of the birds each day.  I’d nearly burn down the house there as I played with matches in second grade- and then proceed to lie about it to my Mom while she could see the paper smoldering in the trash can.  It’s the same room where I first began reading the Bible and started to figure out for myself what I believed.  And, ultimately, it was the same room where I sat at the desk and typed my Daddy’s obituary last year.  That room holds my memories, my tears, and part of my heart.

I hope that you will love this house nearly half as much as we do.  If you look at it from the driveway, it almost appears to smile.  My mother continues to ask about her home (as she constantly wants to return there and doesn’t understand that her Assisted Living transition is permanent.)  We always tell her that we’re sure that things are “fine” in Candler and that her house is okay without her there.  It’s my hope that as we continue to tell her that when she asks that her house would be more than just “fine”.  My hope for you is that her house... your house... will be quite wonderful.

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