In 1959, when I was a child, our family house looked like this:
Fifty years later, in 2009, when Mother died and we sold the place, it looked like this:
I guess my parents were inspired by the style of houses in Colonial Williamsburg. The two-story white houses with the green shutters, the old trees, and the hedges. Even their silverware was from Colonial Williamsburg, as was a pewter mug they had bought. Perhaps the look was out of place in our part of Appalachia, but we liked it, and the neighbors grew to like it, too, as they grew to like Mother.
Now it looks like this:
The giant old oak is gone from the front yard, as are the hedges, the eagle over the front door, and the green shutters. Gone is the stone patio and fireplace that the owner previous to us built with one of his neighbors in back of the house. Gone, too are the stone walkways in the front yard, and the old-fashioned lamp post by the driveway. The rose Mother transplanted from her parents house when they died in the 1960s has been pulled out. No more Colonial Williamsburg. After more than half a century, the property looks more like it belongs to its Appalachian locale.
The neighbors, long-time family friends all, are taking some time to get used to it. Every time they look at it, it screams at them that Mother doesn't live here anymore.
To me, it looks as if we had never lived there. To me, it says that there comes a time for all of us when we can't go home again. And that, if we have the hubris to leave behind any monuments to our past, we had best not look back.
Now new children play in the yard, filling the place with with memories that will seem magical to them in years to come, because it will have been their childhood home.