The Four Walls Of Memories

We recently learned that our ancestral home was going to be torn down and as I write this, what was once a home is now officially ruins. I needed to take time out before I wrote this down. Somehow, writing makes it raw and real…very much so that I find it difficult sometimes to pen my thoughts with having to face the truth that sends daggers through the heart.

The ancestral home was my late maternal grandfather’s house. If you’ve read my previous posts, you would already know that my grandpa was one of the most influential people I have had in my life. While it’s been over a decade since his passing, time still remains a friend to help adapt to his absence but it neither soothes nor does it delude me from the reality that he is no longer with us.

And I miss him more and more, especially in moments when I am lost and in moments when I have achieved success.

We called it ‘The Old Man’s home’. This home was a place where the entire family would gather and meet for special occasions and celebrations. It was a place that brought everyone ‘home’, no matter where we were in the world…and it was a home whose foundations have been struck deep into the earth for a century.

This was my grandfather’s home. This was the home where my mother was born and raised. This was the home where her siblings, too, were brought into this world and raised. This was also the home where their children were raised. Generation after generation, these four walls kept our bloodlines under one roof with moments passed underneath oil lamps and wax candles until it was time to renovate the house. The original structure was kept while all else was stripped and replaced with modern day materials and fixtures. Just as the home grew older, so did we.

It was many years ago; our ancestors lived in the land and one day, something happened to the land titles that each relative owned. The land titles had to be updated and filed once again. This, they did. Unfortunately, the land titles were not accurate. The area of ownership was incorrect in certain places which meant that the split of land, while the same in size, was slightly off in distance.

Even though this was known, my grandpa and our other relatives did not see it as a problem. Back then, changing and updating the land titles, plus measuring plots of land (surveying) cost a lot of money…and money that they didn’t have. And so it was, the wrong titles remained and this was because of the love and trust that the family had for each other. They didn’t think much of it.

Sadly, just as time gives us the power to adapt to change, it also gives room for us to forget who we are and where we came from.

Since the land titles were wrong, half of grandpa’s home sat on our relative’s property. And today, this man, while sharing the same bloodline, neither cared nor had any concern for what the four walls of memories stood for. An attempt was made to buy the property from him but this failed.

And there was no other choice.

The Old Man’s Home was given it’s final days until it was torn down.

And just like that, a century of history fell to dust.

The four walls that enclosed and kept memories still have disappeared. The rocking chair that once was set comfortably on the front porch is now gone. And so it has come to pass that what was once a home is now just another place out in the country where the trees sway in the cool breeze and the once vibrant river runs dry.

I lost my grandpa. My heart still bleeds.

And now, the home that was part of his legacy is gone.

The price we pay for stubborn pride and arrogance of one we called ‘our blood.’

A lost legacy of our future generations.






  1. Lynn Gerrard says:

    You have obviously penned this beautiful piece ‘using the ink from a broken heart’…I empathise with you for reasons of my own…but essentially I’m hurt for you and yours. However, as corny as it may read…no one can ever tear down the walls within which your memories live…and there you can visit your yesterdays any time you feel the need! I’m quite sure you’ll always receive a warm welcome…….Poignant, moving story…told with tenderness…pleasure to read.

    • Hi Lynn,

      Thank you for taking time to read and comment.

      I know for some it sounds outrageous, that property/ walls/ concrete would have such sentimental value but it does to me. I had a lot of first hand experiences in that home and pretty much, that was the biggest ‘physical object’ that my grandpa left behind.

      But you are right…the memories remain even though the structure no longer exists.

      It means a lot to know you enjoyed reading this. Thank you :)

  2. Oh, D. I’m so sorry. This just shatters my heart into a million little pieces. For you and your memories, for the love that is tied into a home wrapped in a blanket of love and memories of your grandfather. And for the future generations of your family who are robbed of this historic, loving, and solid home. 

    I just lost my gramma three years ago and I miss her Intensely. She was my best friend. And her home was the same for me. My mother was born there. My G&G moved there early after they got married and raised their famiy there. It became my 2nd home. As you know, I had a temultous upbringing too, and her house was my ONE contstant, stability, safe place, FULL of love and fun and everything I needed to be the kid I couldn’t always be elsewhere. We moved a lot when I was growing up too, so this was my home base away from home that didn’t change. THE single hardest thing was cleaning her house out after she died. Throwing HER things away, donating them. THANK GOD we got to keep a lot of important pieces so they will stay in the family & I can surround myself with peices of her every day, But it is so weird to know that she’s not there. That she wont be waiting for me in the driveway or kitchen when I pull in. That I can’t walk among her garden and smell her lilac trees (Yes, they’ve grown into beautiful trees creating an arch way into the entrance of her garden and are just as gorgeous and idyllic as it sounds. My heart would BREAK if they ever cut those down.) The house is in NY though so it’s not a constant reminder. But a small, new family moved in and my only hope is that they stay. That it doesn’t flip hands a bunch of times. That they love it just as much as we did. And create awesome, happy memories there too.

    But there is a small piece of comfort knowing it still stands. It’s amazing the power four walls can have. They are not just four walls though, and WE understand that. The walls of a hous take on the love and happiness and memories it contains. It’s a warm cocoon of emotions: safety, comfort, consistency, unconditional love.

    It really breaks my heart that a family member could do something so callous and petty as to rip down this part of your family’s history. Sorry, but what a heartless bastard. Karma will come back and bite him in the ass. But I am so so sorry about the loss and PROUD of you for being able to blog about it and work through those feelings. I went through months of therapy just to work through the grief of losing my gramma. I am over the initial shock and pain, but will never completely lose the ache where the hole in my heart is.

    I can’t wait to hear more about your grandpa. Have you blogged about him yet? I’m looking forward to hearing your terrific story of your relationship with him. =)

    GREAT big warm hugs <3

    PS – Did you see my blogpost about my grandma? It's such a SMALL post on so many years of unconditional love and memories and loss and lessons. I'll post of her more in the future too. I want to make sure my family understands the amazing woman she was and the legacy she left behind. You want to know why I'm so "sweet" as you like to say? It's ALL her influence. I live everyday in her memory and having an open heart like she did. She would give anything to help any of her friends. Just like you. Just like me. =)

    PPS – My Caribou neighbors are going to think I'm nuts. I'm starting to tear up at my table thinking of you and your grandpa and me and my gramma! Haha!

    • My dearest Tweetpea,

      You just read me like a book.

      We have many similar experiences and I believe it’s why we found it easy to get along. Thank you for taking time to read this and to write such a wonderful, insightful and emotional response in turn.

      Your Gramma sounds like a remarkable woman and I don’t think I should even be surprised by how you turned out because you had someone to guide you, just as I did :) It’s so wonderful to have grandparents, isn’t it?

      I know how you feel…it’s hard to go back to a place when they are no longer there. Grampa used to wait for me and then suddenly, he’s just not there. Their absence is painfully noticed.

      The arch way that grew on your Gramma’s property sounds similar to that of my Gramps. You know, I remember when I was 6 years old, we had this really long table underneath the trees that created what appeared to be some type of refuge or hut. And then, we had these long benches on the sides. I remember my family, gramps, our relatives having meals there with an open pit fire cooking our food a few feet away. A barbecue grill fueled by charcoal was on the other end of the table…it was wonderful. And, there were at least 50 family members that were with us.

      The table wasn’t enough to have all of us seated so we had mats placed on the grass/ ground and some of us just sat there whilst we took food from the ‘dining table’. It was extremely fun.

      That home was where I got to play with dogs for the first time…and you know, I love dogs. I’ve had so many first hand experiences there. Such a pity that the home is now gone…

      This really struck me : ‘I am over the initial shock and pain, but will never completely lose the ache where the hole in my heart is’ — I go through this a lot…I know exactly how it feels. There is a part of my heart that is hollow and it has a bottomless pit so no matter how I try to fill that emptiness, it never sees an end.

      I’ve blogged quite a few things about my Gramps here :)  but I will be writing more soon.

      I did see your post about your Grandma and from that, I drew strength to write about this and how it made me feel. For that, I thank you.

      P.S. If there’s anyone who can pull off tearing up at random, I know for sure it’s you. You can freaking rock anything, easy. lol I still have the ‘bozo motherf*cker’ in mind and it still makes me snicker. Can’t even imagine you saying that, haha!

  3. Michael K. Eidson says:

    Dylan, I share your pain. My great grandfather homesteaded the land that I grew up on. It passed from him to my grandfather and then to my father. My mother promised us kids that it would someday be ours. But she died before my dad did, and my dad upon remarrying and moving in with his new wife decided he needed money badly enough that selling the land was the right thing to do. None of us kids were in a position at that time to buy the land from him (and I didn’t realize how earnest he was about selling it when he asked me, or I might have gone into debt, even though I was still in college at the time), so the land was sold to someone who wanted to buy up all the homesteads in that area. The man was successful in buying up hundreds of acres of land, including my great grandfather’s homestead. I’m not even sure what he did with the land. I think maybe he had horses on it or something.

    I got the nerve to go back to the homestead some time later, driving onto the property without the owner’s permission, but then he wasn’t around for me to get permission from and I had no contact information for him. The house where I had grown up was still standing, but the walls were crumbling and floor boards had rotted through, making it risky to even walk through the house. I had asked my dad about certain items I had left in the house for safekeeping while I was off to college, but he didn’t know anything about them, and when I looked for them in the place where I’d stashed them, they were gone. The antique ceramic figures my mother had treasured and which my dad said he knew nothing about were also gone. The place had been cleaned out of anything valuable and then simply left to fall down whenever it would.

    After leaving the old homestead that day, I’ve not been back. It’s too painful. I’ve tried in recent years to locate the man who bought the land, and discovered that he died. His relatives in some foreign land, Sweden if my research is correct, now hold title to the land, but I’ve been unsuccessful in contacting them.

    I have the document in my possession that was signed by Woodrow Wilson granting the land to my great grandfather those many years ago. So I still have something tangible connected with the land.

    Otherwise, I have the memories, and I often play them over in my head.

    • Hi Michael,

      Thank you so much for leaving a comment and for sharing your story.

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve gone through something similar…it’s a painful experience and I applaud you for having the courage to return ‘home’. At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll make that trip…ever since my grandpa died, I’ve only visited once. It’s been a decade already…and since the house no longer stands, I just don’t really see much point in going back…

      I hope you find the current owners of the land so you can have the opportunity to buy it back.

      Perhaps your Dad was in dire need at the time he sold the property…it’s really difficult to say what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in these things because what one may consider ‘important’, others may consider ‘irrelevant’.

      Either way, I hope you find peace and comfort in your heart, no matter which way this turns out in the future.

      I wish you all the best.

      Cheers from Dylan

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