Jessica's Journey

Little challenges, big changes…


Home. The new one, that is, not the old one. And it really does feel like a home already, even when I want to kill it.

The natives were getting restless, and as they can (kind of) get away with throwing a fit about being here working every day, MH took them home to put them to bed. I sit here alone, enjoying my first peace and quiet in the new house. As long as no one tells MH that I’m really not working. I guess he’ll figure I’m doing something important enough, since he called to tell me I got a package of yarn, and I haven’t rushed home to open it.

I was worried, when I found out that he was finally, really going to buy his grandmother’s home, that she or the rest of the family would be a nuisance in my quest to modernize and redecorate the farmhouse. I agonized over where to draw that fine line between living at what I consider to be a reasonable level of comfort, and appeasing the sense of family history. As it happens, it never became an issue. There was one comment about us removing the ugly, mottled pink carpet, which his grandmother insisted was actually “mauve”, but otherwise everyone seems okay with the change.

What has been the biggest shocker, for me, is how much I have decided not to change. At first glance, I was in a panic, unsure of how any two people could possibly tackle so much outdated wood (and not-so-wood) paneling. But the more time we spend here, the more it grows on me. Scary? Maybe, but let me explain why.

I started dating Gayle, the Miracle Husband (or soon-to-be, anyway), shortly after his grandfather passed away. I was never able to meet him. But there is a depth of love and respect for this man that I could not even begin to convey over the Internet. I had heard story after story and formed something of a picture of Don in my mind, but nothing described him to me quite as well as this old house. I knew Grandma as she lived here, but now that she has moved out, and even though we will shortly be moving in, it seems as though the house still belongs to Don. This is the house where his spirit will always live on.

Don was a carpenter. Above all things, he loved to work with wood. He was also a craftsman in every other sense, and he was willing to try anything once, including the work done on his home. As we continue the legacy, we find little things every day that remind us of him. Even though I didn’t know him in his time here on earth, I too have come to look in fond appreciation at the “quirks” that mark his passage. For instance, after taking down the wallpaper in the back room just before painting, we discovered a spot where he had patched a hole in the wall – with duct tape. And every day when I pull in to the drive, faced with “CARSON” in large letters on the mailbox, the garage, the barn, and just about every other available surface, I think that it refers not to my own future name, not to MH, but to Don.

Strangely, none of this interferes with my sense of belonging in our home. I guess that is the meaning of a family homestead, after all – instead of feeling alienated, I have this amazing, personal view back into the Carson family tree. There is something deep and profound about such an intimate link to the history of a place; not just the house itself, but the farm, the community, the entire county.

Don was an avid collector of historical rural artifacts. He was on the planning committee for the county’s bicentennial, was involved in the historical barn registry, and even participated in re-enactments of primitive life in our area. He believed strongly in passing on the “old-fashioned” traditions and skills that our country, and our local community, were founded on. It makes me want to be creative here – to knit, to paint, to build, to grow; to work with my hands in a way that we so rarely do any more.

Don also donated untold numbers of antique farm implements to the A. B. Graham Center, a local community center named after the founder of the 4-H clubs, who was born here in our stretch of rural road town. A large stone slab in the front of the center proclaims A. B. Graham’s importance to the very values that Don held so dear, and brags in the typical small-town fashion that we are, indeed, the exulted birth place of such an influential individual. Every time I see this sign, it reminds me of a shirt that Don had made, that was found as the family was packing Grandma’s stuff in preparation for the big move. MH’s brother now wears it proudly, and I have to admit that I am a little jealous. I wouldn’t mind having one for myself. It says:


And that, right there, is just one more perfect example of the kind of person that Don was. Funny, quirky, confident, stubborn, but above all, steadfastly committed to his God, his family, and his community. Yep, that’s my Grandpa.


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