Mine and Mike’s first home together was a little one bedroom farm house with a leaky roof and six foot black snakes that slithered about in the basement. In the winter we froze along with our kitchen pipes. In the summer we’d sit in front of a fan that blew out hot air. But even though we were poor as church mice, we loved our little home because it was ours and we were finally together.
With the approval from our dear landlord, we decided to paint our home a soft yellow. Since Mike worked at a mom & pop hardware store, he brought the gallons of paint home one day. To my surprise, the paint was bright as sunshine! I frowned at Mike’s choice for we couldn't afford to fix the mistake. Our humble little farm house, on the top of the old gravel road, suddenly became quite popular. I’m sure after it was finished, it could be seen from the moon!
To match the house, I also painted the mail box the same yellow. As carefully as I could, I painted our names upon it without using a stencil and even painted the flag with stars and stripes. As the days went by, we’d secretly mail letters back and forth to each other just so we would have reason to check the mail box. On our way home from work or town we’d try to beat the other by yelling out, “I wonder if we got any mail?” It became a game and we still play it today.
As it happens too often in life, new jobs and opportunities force us to move. We packed up our few belongings, said good bye to our home and moved away. Eventually we found ourselves hundreds of miles away from our first home. The memories have never left us though. That house is where our first ones were made. We had happy memories and sad ones but through it all we grew as a couple and our bond was strengthened. We have often talked about going back to visit but life often throws us curves and money and time is always tight.
Our little yellow house is now crumbling down and has trees growing from the wooden floors. I’m sure those snakes in the basement have turned into alligators! I’m sure our kitchen pipes are shattered from the cold.
No one moved into the little yellow house after Mike and I left so our memories are the last ones that lived there. This makes me happy and sad. I know the house was happy to have us, for within its walls was a time it held laughter and joy. I’m sad for the obvious. I wish I could pick it up, move it here and fix it, but that would be impossible.
I've always wanted a physical piece of the house but because I live so far it was impossible…that is until a dear sister went to visit our family farm and stomping grounds. As she took her family on this little trip they passed by the little yellow house. Thoughts of me came to her. My secret desire to own a piece of the house was made known. After special arrangements, from old friends and neighbors, she was given a piece to give to me.
In the mail one day, out of the blue, a big package came. I curiously opened it and to my surprise was the mail box I had painted so many years ago! Its bright yellow paint is chipped and mine and Mike’s names are faded but they are still visible. I burst into tears as the memories flooded back and my kids stood dumbfounded at why I was crying over an old metal hunk of junk. I quickly told them it was from the little yellow house, for they all knew the stories. They hugged me and tears even came to many of their eyes. I called Mike, even though he was in class, and shared the news. He too was touched.
It’s funny how garbage can sometimes be worth more than gold. It’s the memories that make something invaluable. Already, the kids are fighting about who will be willed this little piece of their parent’s history. Thank you my dear sister Laura and her old friend Beth for helping this piece of the past find its way back to me and my family. It now sits safely in my home away from the elements. From time to time, I find little treasures tucked inside from my children. I know this new tradition will move forward as the years go by.