Saturday, July 27, 2013

This Old House

Can it be made new again?

Several weeks ago, I attended a family reunion for my mother's side of the family in Hanoverton, Ohio.  In 1956, my grandparents and their kids, came to this small town (now 200 years old) from Germany to start a new life.  When I was a child, my summer vacations involved us coming to Hanoverton for a week or so.  Countless days, weeks and months were spent there during my childhood.  I can still remember almost every detail of that house.

My grandparents sold that home in 2003 and went to live close to my uncle.  They were getting older and needed some help and they didn't want to go to a retirement home so they packed up and left.  The house was bought, but it was abandoned over a year ago.  The place has been on the market for the low, low price of $ 38,000, but there have been no takers thus far.  It has remained uninhabited and possibly even uninhabitable for over a year.

We decided to go by the old house and I was utterly shocked by what I found.  This old house, built in 1915 (also the year of my Opa's birth) where I spent a lot of my childhood, was in absolutely horrible condition.  The blue paint, which replaced the green paint I knew, was chipping everywhere.  The porch where I often played with my brother and sister and received visitors like my Aunt Katharina who lived next door, was covered with weeds.  The garden that was the pride and joy of my Oma and Opa which had beautiful flowers and vegetables growing year in, year out was now just a patch of grass with no trees.  The antenna, which I often climbed despite the fact I was so often told not to, was rusty.  The stone steps which lead to the extension my Oma and Opa built where we played our board games as kids were growing mildew and moss.  The door from the showerroom to the outside was now covered with a piece of plywood, painted blue to match the rest of the house.  The garage still had my grandfather's workstation.  The hole in the ground of the garage which had housed the water tank was covered with dirt and a crushed can of Mountain Dew.  The kitchen still had the same cabinets that I could remember where things were placed.  There was a brand new sink but it wasn't flush with the window which created a little drop off.  I found a little spoon left behind.  The roof was in shambles, the gutters were coming off.  Weeds in the flower gardens around the edges of the house overtook the last remaining plants.  Unwanted trees were growing.  The only things that seemed to be intact and working was the thermometer on the porch which my grandparents didn't take and the cables around the branches of the large tree to prevent them from breaking off.  My mother was close to tears.  I was, too.

My mom's cousin, Bonnie, came by to greet us.  She told us that the situation concerning the old house was not atypical for Hanoverton.  Even if people were to buy this home, there was no guarantee people would maintain it or even make it presentable.  Such was the standard.  I suppose that the situation is due in no small part to the state of the economy which has hit a lot of small towns especially hard.

There are a lot of analogies I could make with the vacation home of my childhood.  It could be as the house of my soul, which, as St. John Chrysostom, is unworthy for the Lord, made that way because of sin.  It could be as any number of churches which have become empty and the once glorious house is now a dilapidated shadow of its former self.  It could be even positive, still standing on the strength of the base as the Church stands on the strength of Christ even if it doesn't look like much. It could be like any number of different things.  Perhaps I'm just getting nostalgic at my age.  At nearly 37, with a wife and child, I think I'm entitled to a little of that now and again.

All in all, I think the lesson to draw from this is the reminder that all temporal things do come to an end.  Maybe the house will be bought and new life will be injected into it.  Until then, it will sit empty.

1 comment:

  1. Hebrews 13:14..."For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come." :)