Many children have a tattered coverlet or a favorite plush toy they carry everywhere. It gives them confidence and comfort. As we get older, our security blankets are not made of wool or stuffed fleece. When I feel down or insecure, I let my mind drift back to happy times. Sometimes I fall asleep and dream about them.
Either way, the memories make me feel better quite quickly. They are like a patchwork quilt with many colored squares – they come from different periods of my life – but I must say that many of the warmest ones are of the house where I grew up.
My childhood home was a panabode – a cedar log house – built in 1953 by my father and my grandfather. Both of them were good carpenters and they could also wire and plumb. They knew how to lay shingles on a roof and fasten siding over a foundation. Granddad was a master at grooving hardwood planks together to make a floor. Mom and Granny varnished the wooden walls, sewed curtains, and they planted roses, dahlias and lilac in the garden.
Fifteen years later the original house could no longer accommodate us all – two additional bedrooms and a family room were added – our house grew with us.
I was 20 when Mom and Dad sold it and moved to Princeton, a town in the interior part of the province. Since then I have driven past the place a few times but I never went inside – until last Tuesday.
Serendipity was certainly at work when I met “Cheryl” at Auntie Alice’s knitting retreat on Pender Island. I learned that she and her family live five doors away from my former home and she said she’d try to get an invitation for me to visit. Fortunately the present owner was pleased to oblige.
The angle of the front stairway felt immediately familiar, and at the top, I pivoted to face the front door – the original front door with its long black hinges and the same “tricky” lock – I couldn’t believe it.
The coatroom seemed smaller to me, but the living room with its wood burning fireplace looked just the same. Several new skylights are a great addition – they allow lots of sunshine inside. My parents’ bedroom is now a sleek kitchen and my mother’s galley has been repurposed into a pre-teen’s bedroom.
Looking all around, I remembered how my grandfather’s paintings used to decorate many of the walls, and now the present owners’ art works hang in their place. The backyard has been beautifully landscaped – my mom loved gardening and she would be so pleased to see the way it looks now.
When I went to see the house, I took a floor plan of how it looked when our family lived there. I told a few funny stories from the “good old days”, and I think the family who now own the house enjoyed learning about the history of their home.
Seeing how much they love it created a happy new memory for me, and I know my parents and grandparents would feel gratified to know that the house they built has stood the test of time.