This morning, I took a trip down memory lane, having to go to Mesa for a chiropractic appointment. (spent way too much time playing my violin for Easter service this weekend). I thought about going to the cemetery to visit family gravesites...going way back to my great grandfather but opted to drive past there and found myself parked along the curb of the vacant acre lot on Brown and 9th Pl. This was once the homestead where my dad grew up. It's been totally vacant for decades. Now, a sign saying "Future Home of an Assisted Living Facility" or something to that effect sits on the property. Across the street is the old Fitch homestead, with fields still under cultivation, as so much of Mesa was when I was growing up.
From there I went on to Stapley Rd and past the Church of the Redeemer,the church my parents helped build, physically and financially. It is also where I was first married in 1976, and attended my husband's funeral in 1980 (I and at least 700 law enforcement officers from all over the country.) The church looks unattended, excepted for the Christian school in the back. The citrus trees that used to don the yard are gone; the more recent palm trees quietly dying, it seems; weeds interspersed with the once verdant grass.
I continued on around on Dartmouth to the elementary school my sister and brother attended. At least half, if not more of the children were of Hispanic descent. Turning onto Hunt, I passed what used to be a beautiful half acre of pasture watered from the irrigation ditch along the edge. My horses and my dad's goats munched most contentedly for many years in that field. I retired my old 1953 Studebaker in that field for the entertainment of the goats who loved to jump up on it, then whip around and slid down the hood. Said pasture is a mass of weeds, broken fencing, trash.
Moving along, the house my parents lived in for 20+ years is nothing short of a catastrophe. I nearly cried. I've seen it in the not too distant past. Each time I've driven past, it seemed a little less cared about. This time it was horrendously neglected; the little flower pots beneath the windows, hanging loose or gone, the grass dying, trees unpruned, bars on windows, beautiful door replaced with a solid door, trash lying about.I was mortified. How amazing the transformation when a home is cared about and loved. My family was never far above a certain level of poverty due in part to my dad's poor health, but there was always an abundance of flowers, very green grass, a prolific grapefruit tree. It was such a cute place and my parents were so happy to have it. My mom actually had it paid off (a whopping $16,000) by the time she moved into assisted living in Utah in the late 80's..
Sigh. I felt somehow older and sadder, and at the same time, anxious to get home to my own funky older house (a fixer-upper when we bought it in 2001....and we're still fixing). But with my horses in the back yard almost, my wonderful garden, roses galore, along with pansies, geraniums, and petunias, mega shade trees and sweet front courtyard with crepe myrtles...along with all the delightful changes we have made inside...yeah, life is good and I am very grateful to have seen what I saw this morning. Because it has magnified my gratitude for what I call home this April 14, 2009.