Everything’s Always Changing
Is it just me, or does life seem like one long series of hellos and goodbyes? Of beginnings and endings? Babies are born and grandparents pass on. Family members are added by marriage and sometimes taken away by divorce. New friends move into your life while old friends leave for new jobs, new ministries or simply a change of scenery. It seems like the only thing constant in life is that it is ever changing.
And it’s not just people. We experience change and loss with places and things as well. What mom hasn’t shed a tear or two the last night her babe slept in his crib before moving to his “big boy” bed? Many have lost homes or possessions due to storms, hurricanes or fire. Who hasn’t looked wistfully back as they pulled out of the driveway of their old home, even though they were excited about their new place?
That is what my husband and I experienced just a few days ago. We had to say goodbye to a place, a special place, full of twenty-five years worth of memories. It was kind of sad pulling the front door shut and driving down the hill one last time.
How Did We End Up Here?
In 1986, my brother left our central Florida home to attend Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Being new empty nesters, my parents bought a two-bedroom condominium on nearby Sugar Mountain so they could visit him and play some golf. As many college students do, he decided to stay in Boone. He eventually got married and he and his wife bought a house on about twenty-five acres of land on the back side of Beech Mountain.
The summer before his son was born, he and my mom hatched the idea of building a log cabin somewhere on the property. We would have a place to visit and stay close to my brother and his family. So, in June of 1995, my mom, my two children and I visited my brother at his home in Banner Elk, NC. We tromped up the mountain scouting out possible building sites. Not long after that, my husband and my mom met with a log cabin builder and decided on a plan. We were going to have a log cabin vacation home on the side of a mountain.
My mom, preschool daughter and I went up to check things out in March of 1996. The foundation was started. We visited in the summer and my husband and kids camped out on the deck. The cabin wasn’t ready for us when we made our annual trip up for Thanksgiving as we had hoped. (We were learning a lot about the pace of construction in North Carolina.) The house was almost done when my mom made a trip up in January of 1997. My parents welcomed their first visitors in March. We had school-aged children so it was summer before we were able to stay in the new cabin.
From that point on, though, we have made so many wonderful memories in the green house, as my nephew called it.
When my children were young, we would spend two or three weeks in the summer. They enjoyed playing with their young cousin and exploring the woods around the house. In those early years, my grandmother was still living and she would join us — four generations!
We spent several Thanksgivings in the cabin. I remember one year when we kind of overdid it. I believe we had six pies for thirteen people and an abundance of leftover deviled eggs and green bean casserole. My brother’s three dogs ate the leftover eggs (which was a big smelly mistake) but they wouldn’t touch the green beans.
My parents spent several weeks in the cabin every fall. They would have friends and family up to visit. They enjoyed playing all of the beautiful golf courses in the area and the wineries too. Once our children were in college, we joined them long enough to attend the different fall festivals.
I haven’t spent a winter in the cabin, but, we have experienced snow in October, November and even March. Some relatives and friends have stayed in the cabin over Christmas or early in the year and it’s evidently very cold.
There was a period of time when my husband and I did not come to the mountains as much. I’m sure it was when we were in the thick of raising school-aged children. They were so busy with all of their activities that a trip to North Carolina wasn’t so easy. But, the cabin always called. Each of my children made a trip to the cabin with their friends the summer after their high school graduation.
My husband and I have been true empty nesters for about a decade and we have spent more and more time up here in these beautiful mountains. Six years ago, I attended a writers conference about two hours away. We decided to combine it with a stay at the cabin. We also fell in love with the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in July. And of course, as Floridians, we have to escape the Florida heat to enjoy the cool temperatures and beautiful colors. That has been our routine for the past few years — spending time at the cabin in May, July and October.
It has been a great place to meet up with our grown children. It’s much closer for them to travel here than to come home. We’ve enjoyed time with our in-laws as well. Each of our children have spent time with their friends in the cabin. My son and daughter-in-law spent quite a bit of time there in 2020 when they were both working remotely due to the pandemic.
In The Name Of Progress
But, change happens.
About eleven years ago, a developer bought a huge chunk of property adjacent to ours. It didn’t really affect us until maybe four or five years ago. We could hear more construction close by and could hear trucks going up and down the mountain. On Saturday nights in the summer, we could hear concerts up above us (sometimes they were decent). Then, earlier this year, the man who had purchased my brother’s home below us sold it to the developer. Not long after that, they made an offer to purchase our house and land. Timing and circumstances made it seem the right thing to do.
Memories To Treasure
As we packed our belongings last week, I could almost feel the memories oozing from the walls and swirling around the vaulted ceiling. Every part of the cabin I saw brought back a treasured memory.
- The rocking chair my grandmother rocked in every morning when she was with us
- The ski clothes in the attic that my children wore when they played outside in the cold
- The big table so many friends and family sat around sharing a meal and laughter
- The deck that both of my dogs enjoyed playing on
- The outside table where I spent many a morning in quiet time or writing
- The art work created by a close family friend and a cousin
- The room that was turned into a scrapbooking studio for a scrapbooking retreat
- The stairs where my kids made up the silliest songs that I still can’t get out of my head
- The table where we worked on jig-saw puzzles together
- The stove on which dozens of pots of chili were cooked
- The woods where a bunch of teen-aged boys became fort builders
- The bush that held a nest full of baby cardinals one summer
- The beautiful rhododendron bushes at the end of the driveway
- The driveway where my sister-in-law and I watched a meteor shower one August night
- The fireplace where I strung a banner to congratulate my son and his bride-to-be on their engagement
Most of all, I remembered all of the people, the laughter and the good times that were shared within these walls. That’s why it was a little sad when I closed the door and drove down the mountain for the last time.
Thank you, old friend, for all of the good memories. I hope your new people will love you well.
Of course, it’s always more difficult to say goodbye to people than places or things. Nevertheless, places and things come to hold a special place in our hearts. How about you? Have you ever had to say goodbye to a place or a thing that meant a lot to you? Did you experience a flood of memories as you said goodbye? I’d love to hear.