When my phone rang that morning I was surprised to hear my dad’s voice on the other end. It was two weeks after I learned I was going to be an aunt for the third time. My younger sister, Amy, was just 27 and was already having her third child, a baby girl they planned to name Isabelle. She married her high school sweetheart, Jonathan, and they moved to Connecticut a few years ago. Amy has always been a hopeless romantic and dreamed of having the house with the yard and the big family. Even though we grew up in Manhattan, Amy was never really a city girl. My mom wished she lived closer, but she always loved Jonathan and she was happy for them. Now all she talks about is how we have to focus on finding me a husband.
I was 32 and single and had pretty much given up on men. My parents got divorced when I was ten and it hit me really hard. I got it in my head that love didn’t exist, and subsequently pushed away anyone I ever got really close to. Everyone except for Amy, she was five when my dad moved out and she didn’t remember the yelling and the tears and the door slamming. I’ve always been thankful that she was somehow shielded from all that.
“How’s everything going hunny?” my dad said, trying to make small talk over the phone. We’ve always been really close, but neither of us are big talkers. “I’m doing well dad, is everything okay?” The tone of his voice made it sound like he didn’t call just to say hi. “Oh I’m fine Kaitlyn, I called to tell you about Granny’s house… someone finally bought the property.” When my grandmother passed away she left the house to my dad. The mortgage had been paid off years before, but the house was located in a small town upstate and with all of us living in the city no one really wanted or needed the chore of tending to it.
“That’s good dad, you’ve been trying to sell it forever.” I said. I don’t know why he felt the need to tell me, it had been years since I’d last been there. “Yeah that’s true, but the house is practically condemned and the new owner wants to tear it down, I just thought you should know. I think I’m going to drive up there this weekend and walk through the place and see if there is anything I’d like to save.”
I guess my dad knew how much I used to love that old house; even though it deteriorated after my granny’s death, I still felt a pang of sorrow knowing it was going to be torn down. “I was hoping you might want to drive up with me?” he said. The last time I had been there was six years ago when my granny passed away. I knew she always wanted to be a great grandmother, but she never got the chance. Amy had her first baby just one year later.
Prior to my granny passing away I only visited the house once for a short visit. Nothing like when Amy and I used to play there as kids. Our family always spent a week or two during the summer. Dad would tell us stories about him and his brothers growing up and all the trouble they used to get into, and we always loved the cookies and cakes that Granny would spoil us with. We’d play outside in the huge yard, go wadding in the crick down the road, and play with our Barbies on the porch when it rained. The summer after my ninth birthday was probably the last summer we spent there as a family. It wasn’t the same as the other summers I remembered though, my parents fought the entire time and my granny would shoe us outside to try and shelter us from their yelling. It didn’t matter though, I was pretty used to it by then. By the time we made it back to the city that summer it only took a few days before my dad had moved out, and we moved to a smaller apartment up town with my mother.
It made me sad that that was one of my last memories of my granny’s house. I thought about not going, but then I thought I would like to see it one last time before it was gone, so I told my father I’d travel up there with him. We spent the four-hour drive catching up and reminiscing about our road trips up there when we were young. All the driving eye-spy games we’d play, and gas station junk food we’d eat. He slipped in a quick inquiry about my mom, and I told him she was doing fine.
When we pulled in the driveway it was late in the afternoon. As we walked through the house I was flooded with memories of summer, laughter, and love. Most of the rooms were empty but we did manage to rescue a few things. We walked outside around the property until sunset and then left to go find something to eat in town. The next day we drove by one last time on the way back to the city, the construction crew had already started to tear down the house. We stopped and watched them for a minute and one tear streamed down my cheek as I watched the left corner of my granny’s house collapse to the ground. It was sad to see but I was happy I had a chance to say goodbye. My dad placed his hand on my shoulder for a minute and then put the car in drive and pulled away. As we drove off the happy memories that I’d left behind all those years ago traveled back with me, and I realized I had some rebuilding of my own to do.