Several weeks ago, when I wrote an excessively wordy reflection about evil glee sledgehammering and other delights, there were many lovely reader comments — very thoughtful responses, which kind of got to the heart of the issue much better than I did. The issue being, how we can respect and show gratitude for our vintage homes and the tastes of their previous owners, at the same time we make them our own. Here is one such story: Dawn tells us about her house… its longtime owner Miss Jean… and Miss Jean’s rose bush. Dawn writes:
I absolutely love my house. Like, I am IN love with my house. To the point that most of my friends and family think I have lost a few marbles.
I have a great love and respect for her and the families she has served.
Built in 1959 I researched and feel I know BOTH previous owners. The original was the builder. And he indeed built a solid fine house. Seven years later he sold it to his daughter’s mother-in-law. Still in the family!
I bought the home from Miss Jean. This is what I call her. I absolutely feel she is in every corner of this house. She owned this house for 52 years. She LOVED this house. Her husband and she bought this house when he returned from the war. He had polio. And he died in this house in 1988. She lived here alone in the house she loved without her husband. By all accounts she was feisty and fiercely independent. I love this. For I am the same way! She was forced out of this house due to old age and Alzheimers. And it was so much a part of her that one year later, she passed away and her funeral procession went by the house.
In my heart, this will always be mine AND Miss Jean’s house. I share it with her willingly and with love. I have updated it slightly. Always thinking to myself, “I hope Miss Jean likes this!” I ripped up her carpets. And I felt bad. But I also asked her forgiveness.
Carpets do not fit my two dog and one cat lifestyle. Miss Jean is probably cringing up there thinking of my dogs in her house. LOL.
After living here a year I feel good. My house is a mix of old and new. Because that’s who I am, too. Jean was the old. I am the new. And I don’t think there is one thing wrong about blending our two lives and styles.
The point of this rambling mess is this. It IS my house, and I can and will do what makes ME happy, but part of what makes me happy is thinking about what Miss Jean liked and what would make HER happy. I honor her because she honored this house.
This year on the one-year anniversary of her death, I took a clipping from her rose bush out to her grave site. When I first moved here I started hacking away at the darn thing because I didn’t know what it was and it was horribly over grown. My neighbor came over to tell me to stop. She said that gets BEAUTIFUL in the spring!
She is right. It does. Its over grown. It sits to close now to the driveway so we can’t park there. But, well, Miss Jean planted it God knows how long ago, and it’s absolutely gorgeous in full bloom.
What I once hated I have now grown to love…