During all of these immense changes we’re making to our awesome little cottage we’ve kept Eileen and George in the front of our minds and it’s been an incredibly bittersweet journey.
It’s so exciting to be renovating a home with my husband and learning new things, making new memories and putting our heart and soul into every decision we make; but I am often reminded that the reason we are able to have this adventure in the first place is because someone else’s adventure, someone very near to our hearts, is winding down to it’s end. After writing about all the drastic changes we’ve made in our zeal to get as much done as possible before we move in I realize it may seem to our friends and family that we aren’t fully aware of or effected by the reality of our circumstance.
Every time I see Eileen she never fails to tell me how much she loves that house, and how she wishes so badly she could still be living her life there. Her words break my heart all over again every time I hear them (and with her poor memory I hear them more than once during each visit). I feel this heavy guilt over being young whipper-snappers basically gutting the home she put her heart into for 20+ years. I understand there is no rational reason to feel guilt since it would either be us or some other family moving in and making changes since Eileen simply cannot live alone any longer… but it doesn’t make it any easier on that soft spot in my heart.
Though we have to move quickly and make many changes immediately, we haven’t forgotten about the thousands of memories made in this house – not just by George and Eileen but by all the families that have owned this property. We’ve saved swatches of every single textile we’ve changed so we can make some sort of memory mosaic of what used to occupy the space before we put the Brake fingerprint on it.
No matter how sad it is that all of our life stories must someday come to an end, I have to choose to live in the now and embrace the memories we’re making together in this home. At first I felt like we were erasing this house’s past by altering it, but now I realize we’re adding to the rich history of it – and we’re giving it more time to exist and be loved and lived in before some contractor comes along to tear it down and build condos in it’s place. Now that would be erasing it’s history. We’ll do everything we can to never let that happen in our lifetime.
I am a researcher. A Googler. I’m not afraid of the unknown as long as I have a working internet connection. Conversely, waiting for answers to important questions and not being able to Google them right away makes me absolutely bananas.
My husband, Jason, and I are currently waiting to hear back on the plethora of tests and checks we’re having done on the beautiful 1890 brick carriage house Jason’s grandma -and grandpa before he passed 10 years ago- lived in for over 20 years. Jason’s grandma, Eileen, had some scary health issues at the beginning of 2012 and she had to be admitted into the hospital/rehab for months. While she was recovering I volunteered to care for her yard so no one had to think about it while the 4 siblings all worked on getting their mother healthy. Unfortunately, as Eileen’s health recovered through the summer, her memory has declined substantially due to the many seizures she experienced during her illness. Unable to remember if she has taken her pills 3 minutes after she takes them has forced the family to admit her to into a senior care facility. …and now her beautiful home, which her love and tasty cooking made so inviting and warm, sits empty and the elements are starting to take over – and I, after caring for it all summer, am so smitten with the place that I can’t see my life being lived anywhere but there. I want to keep her home alive and happy and lived in. I can see our Christmases, our summer BBQ’s, our niece playing in the massive leaf piles in the autumn… I can see our history unfolding there and my heart aches at the notion that another family might take over, or worse, a contractor will buy the land and tear down the house to make room for condos like they did on the other end of the city block.
When Jason and I started dating I was only 15 years old. Even at 15 I fell madly in love with the house the moment I laid eyes on it. The lot is a sprawling 1/2 acre on the edge of historical downtown Loveland, Colorado. The lot is populated with huge trees and bushes of beautiful roses. The house itself used to be the carriage house where the horses and blacksmith resided, and the original home sat on the South end of the lot; a veritable mansion built during one of Loveland’s first big waves of incoming settlers. If the stories I’ve been told are correct, that main house burned down in the 1960’s and no one ever repaired it. It sat unloved and hauntingly filled with nocturnal creatures for almost 20 years. The family that owned the lot decided to scrap the mansion in the early 80’s and convert the carriage house into a livable space. George and Eileen bought the home soon after.
There are so many things to think about with such a vintage home! Asbestos, Radon, roof replacement, electrical updating, the constant smell of natural gas; all items that could be deal breakers if they come back with nasty results. So far, the electrical has come back as updated but not great (needing a $700-1.3k upgrade); the Asbestos came back negative on all samples except a ‘presumed’ positive on the plaster behind the drywall since we couldn’t get to enough sample spots to rule it out (which is absolutely incredible in such an old home!). We’ll hear back about the gas, roof and Radon early next week and I’m about ready to explode with anticipation.
tick. tock. tick. tock.
For now I’m trying to keep myself preoccupied with this new blog and with preparing all the paperwork to allow us to rent out our house if we end up buying gma’s place. That’ll be another huge project in and of itself.
Alanna is a free spirited, techie-turned-entrepreneur starting a new adventure in a vintage cottage with her awesomesauce hubby, sassy cat and a little green flying monster