Twenty years ago this past weekend, we bought our farmhouse. It was owned at the time by a farmer named Harold and his wife Joy. He said his family moved in in 1937 when he was just nine years old. Before that it had been the Hardison family who lived there, beginning with Calvin and Sarah who built the house in the 1870s, and lastly, their two (by the 1930s) old maid, songwriter-turned-schoolteacher daughters Mollie and Veva. You can read some of their story HERE.
On Memorial Day weekend in 1999, Harold and his family pulled away in pickup trucks with the last of their stuff and passed the skeleton keys to the front and side doors to us.
Over the past hundred and twenty-something years, the house had been well-loved and well-lived in, but it was clear it needed a lot of work. Luckily I was foolish enough to not have any idea how hard or big that job was going to be. So we rolled up our sleeves and started in. At times, the list of things that needed to be done was overwhelming and I felt sure I’d made a big mistake, and wondered if I should pack the kids up and head back towards Nashville and find someplace easier to live. But I never did. For some reason, I and we, stuck it out. Just naive enough to think that if we kept working on it and didn’t give up, the house would one day turn into an incredible home to live in and raise a family in. And now, twenty years later, it truly has.
This past Monday, to celebrate Memorial Day and two decades of being here at the farm, Harold (who’s 91 years old now) and his sister Reba joined us, as did about 150 wonderful friends and family members.
Besides some darn good brisket from Shaffer’s and boiled shrimp that our friend Jeffrey provided (that’s a whole other story), we had volleyball, horseshoes, and lots of other fun games set up to play. Cowboy Danny took the kiddos on hayrides in the backfield. Heidi’s boyfriend, Dillon, and another friend of mine, Daniel Faulk, kept everyone entertained with old-time fiddle and bluegrass tunes as we all visited and enjoyed the beautiful day.
When dinner was finished, we gathered for a photo to remember the occasion.
Afterward, a number of us took a walk to the backfield to spend a few minutes thinking about and praying for the ones we love who are no longer here with us.
For Heidi and Hopie and me, and my whole family... it wasn’t just a great day of communion and celebration, it marked a momentous event for us. We’ve now been in the same house and same community for twenty years. And for us and the life we grew up living, that’s a big deal. In the thirty-something years before I bought the farm, I’d rarely ever lived in the same place for more than six months.
But now, it truly feels like we’ve put down deep roots in the soil here and are growing a life here that will outlive us. On top of that, both of my sisters, Marcy and Candy, and their husbands live in houses on either side of us of here on the farm. We’re so grateful for what God has done and what he’s continuing to do here on this land and in our community.
I’ll close with a few more pics from our Memorial Day gathering.
...special thanks to Michael Hayes and Daniel Grace for the wonderful pics.