Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dream Land Part 3: Papa's House

[Previous: Dream Land Part 1: Grandma and Papa's House, Dream Land Part 2: Grandma's House]

Part 3 of 3.

Grandma's House, the Dream Land from our childhood, had sat unoccupied while Grandma lived at the guest house at my mother's. This went on for four years, until after she celebrated her 100th birthday. Before the year was up, my uncle made the hard call that something needed to be done with Grandma's House.

My mother, never one who wanted to be told what to do, even if what she was told was right, was unhappy with the suggestion. It wasn't that my uncle was wrong, it was something that she had dreaded doing, and now had to do. And no one was happy about it. Not Grandma. Not my mother. Not my uncle. Not my sisters. No one.

My sister had mentioned about buying the house, but wasn't sure she wanted to take on that expense. She already had a house that was too big for her, and that she couldn't sell.

My mother finally decided to buy my uncle out. She gave him half of what he said he wanted to sell it for. Since the idea was they'd split it -- they actually had title to the house, not Grandma -- my mother simply gave him his half, and assumed full ownership of the house. She knew she'd need to dispose of it in some way, but wanted to do it on her own schedule, or at least when she was ready.

Grandma celebrated her 101st birthday worried that some stranger would end up with her little house. She understood that the current situation couldn't continue, but she still was saddened by that prospect.

My sister decided to buy the house after all, and began doing the work to get it fully livable again. After four years sitting unoccupied, it needed a little work. Heck, it needed a lot. And, truth be told, a lot more than they realized.

During the whole remodeling process, my sister changed her mind and decided that she needed to not buy the house. My mother wasn't happy about that, but that's not the first time one of us made her unhappy about something. Anyway, I made a couple of phone calls, and, when I was happy with what I heard, approached my mother about buying the house. She was surprised, but welcomed my offer.

This is a good time to let you know that when my first grandchild was born in 1999, there were several suggestions made about what she, and the other soon arriving grandchildren, would call me. I wasn't thrilled with any of the suggestions. I knew, though, that whatever the grandchildren called me would be how I was to be known for the rest of my life. If I didn't like it, I'd change my mind and embrace it. It's what grandfather's do.

When one of them was able to call me a name, it came out "Papa." I hadn't thought about that. No one had thought about that. But I loved it. And, to this day, I'm Papa to all the grandchildren.

Now, back to the house. The whole process of buying a house was what you would expect: the unexpected popping up and such. It was much frustrating, as you can imagine, but finally, it was done. I bought the Grandma's House, formerly Grandma and Papa's House.

It's a little different inside than before. Some of the same furniture is there, some arranged as always, but some arranged a little different. Just enough like it always was to make it very familiar. Just enough different to make it someone else's house.

Grandma was thrilled last year when she found out that I bought the house. She told me she was so worried someone she didn't know would get the little house. She celebrated her 102nd birthday last September knowing that her little house was still in the family.

Grandma died this week, and we're burying her today. She's gone. Her house is still around. It's Papa's House, now. But, in many ways, it's still the same Dream Land we all loved as children.


  1. Grandma's always find a way to R.I.P. Thanks for the story, Basil.

  2. I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother, Basil. That is a beautiful story.

  3. You being down south I imagine y'all pronounce "Papa" as "paw-paw" not the Yankee sounding "pahh-pahh".

    Hope you have many happy years as the new Papa of Dream Land.

  4. So sorry for your loss, but thanks SO much for sharing this story! Heartbreaking and heartwarming all in one.

  5. Fantastic tribute. My condolences, Basil. I'm sure it gave her peace to know you were taking over her beloved home.

    I lost my final grandparent a couple of hours after Christmas. As old and gray as I have become, spending time with my Pearl Harbor survivor grandfather always brought me immense joy. You love your grandparents when you are a child, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much you can really appreciate them and their influence on your life as an adult.

    *...pause for a moment while HCG goes and pours some good whiskey*

    Here is to your grandma, and the 102 years that she graced us with her presence. RIP.

  6. Very moving story! May your grandmother's soul rest in peace!


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