Wednesday, January 28, 2009


And she's back. Literally. I've been on a one week driving tour of Louisiana and parts of Texas I never care to see again. All part of the merger of which my client is a part of. Odd to find yourself evaluating a real estate portfolio where the sales and/or real estate model is completely different than your own- but I've found myself in po dunk no where too many times to count this past week. Clearly their model of real estate is "build it and they will come" and it seems to work. These little stores are busy. They are friendly and people, I think, come to chat with the employees more than they come to conduct business. I think an upgrade in cell phone or service plan happens while talking about last weeks football game. Whatever. Clearly it works.

Not so nowhere

About an hour south of Wichita Falls is a little town called Graham. Population about 12,250. When this little town showed up on the portfolio list I volunteered to go. My reasons were personal. At the corner of East and Second Street you'll find two small houses. One is rock and the other is a small white frame house with yellow shutters. My fondest childhood memories were made here.. in Graham, Texas. My great grandfather was a carpenter..he built the small rock house and raised his three daughters there, my grandmother being the youngest. When she married, she and my grandfather built the small white house with the help of the family. All in all my grandmother lived some 84 years at the corner of East and Second street in the small town of Graham, Texas. My family took pride in their homes. The yards always immaculate, the paint fresh, and the shrubs pruned. My great aunt Ina (yes I said Ina) still mowed her own yard and pulled weeds by hand well into her 80s. Her proudest moments were quite possibly getting yard of the month multiple times. My grandmother who we affectionately called Grandsam always said she painted her shutters yellow because it was a happy color. Maybe that's why yellow remains my favorite color today.

These houses were not castles. They weren't filled with the finest of things, but they were always tidy and the doors were always open to whoever wanted to come for a visit. My Grandsam would tell me that she never wanted a big fancy house- she didn't want to clean it. The older I get- the more I can relate. But her mantra was always "I want my house to be neat and tidy, warm and for people to feel welcome here." I think she succeeded. The family sold these two houses back in 2004 when my Grandsam could no longer care for them. She moved to Florida to live with my Aunt and Uncle and spend some time where it was warm. Moving her from her little house on Second Street was impossibly sad. My roots had been up-rooted.


I'm a 3rd generation Native Texan. In this transient world we live in that just doesn't happen much anymore. My Grandsam was pretty proud of the Texas roots too. She always said of people in Texas "Ashley they're just friendlier" I could go on and on about my Grandsam. That's probably another post. But in 2005 she became ill. By the end of 2005 we moved her back to Texas.. She said she wanted to die in Texas. She brought in 2006 in a nursing home near my parents house. I would visit her often and we would talk about life and the impression she had made on mine. I'd tell her how much I loved her and on January 16, 2006 I was getting ready for work when my mom called to tell me that my Grandsam had died. I was going to see her that afternoon to tell her I was pregnant with Cole. I hadn't been back to Graham since we buried her in the family plot in the Graham cemetery. I think that's why January is always such a hard month for me. A new year in front of me and the reminder of her death and a period of time spent missing her and wishing she were still here. I wonder what she would think of the decisions I've made and what she'd have to say about my Cole. I've missed her guidance and her input and the fact that she never called me Ash.. I was always Ashley or Sugarbabe.

Pulling up to the houses that were still present at the corner of East and Second Street was particularly difficult for me. I cried. Gone were the small quaint homes I remember from my childhood.. gone was the sand box I use to play in and the porch swing I would sit in. Instead were two poorly kept houses with a Winnebago parked in the yard. The new residents had painted the yellow shutters gray and the sight itself was equally as gray. They had ripped the rock off the back of my great grandparent's house and left it in the yard. I didn't stay long. I guess there's just a difference between a house and a home.

I'm blocking that image from my mind. I'll choose instead to remember sitting on the back steps with my Grandsam and my Great Aunt Ina tending to the yard in a dress, sneakers and her bonnet. I'll freeze these images in my mind. Remembering them as homes and more importantly remembering the people who cared for them.

That's all I've got for now. It's time for a bath, some coco and last DVD of Season Three of the Gilmore Girls. I am Lorelai. Holla!!


NancyJ said...

Oh man! Now I'm work!! Ashley, that was a beautiful story, and a beautiful tribute to your "Grandsam!" Thanks for sharing it. Tender moments!

Cathy Hutchison said...

Ashley, this post was so rich. Thank you.