family is story

Saying Goodbye to Autry Circle

Autry Circle Satellite 3Have you ever been torn between the feelings of relief and grief? Standing on the bare land of where my home once stood, I felt those feelings rise up through my tear ducts. My homestead of 41 years is gone. It was sold to an investment real estate agent on February 14, 2014. Dad, Nathan and I attended the closing, making small talk with the buyer, ignoring the milestone we were passing.

The sale of my parent’s property is a long time in coming. Even before mom passed away, my parents were seeking to sell everything and live an RV lifestyle. The last time their land was under an active contract was 2007. That seems forever ago; we weren’t sure this day would ever come.

The melting relief comes from an unloading of what has become a burden. Land that become too much to handle. Buildings that became too hard to maintain. Pipes, wells, wiring that became too brittle to repair.

Once my father moved away from the property in 2010, vandals came in and stripped the buildings of anything that could be resold: fixtures, wiring, metals, abandoned furniture. And once stripped, vandals found the property and ripped out ceilings, broke out windows and busted up doors.

It was easy to forget these violations, as no one lived on the property and it was far away from where any of the family lived. But whenever we stopped by to check on things, there was more damage, more wildness, more dilapidation. The property drew energy from me every time I visited. To have it out of our lives is a relief worthy of a “Hallelujah!”

However, the feeling of grief comes from the loss of the homeplace as a joy to our family and the loss of a physical representation of so many memories. I grieve that the property got out of control. That people took advantage of my dad and his hospitality. That we couldn’t keep the wilderness from taking over. That we didn’t have the money, nor the manpower to fix the problems.

There’s also the grief of letting go of so much of my life. The one place in this world that taught me how to be who I am.

The death of a blessing is bittersweet. And this is some of the grief I feel—to recognize fully that I’ve lived an enchanted and blessed life because of how I grew up, where I grew up. And now, the homeplace of that life is gone.

What I’m learning and discovering during this is how to hold grief in a balance. And how to honor grief for its function and resist its ability to consume. And I’m learning the homeplace that I’ve loved—over time—has moved from being a place on the outside of me, to being a place on the inside of me.

1194 Autry Circle has served its purpose in the life of the Davis’. So, I say my goodbyes. Goodbye, Woods and Stream. Goodbye, Shop and Barn. Goodbye, Oaks. Goodbye, Pines. Goodbye Flagpole, Fireplace, and Fields. Goodbye, Resting Place of Rusty, Babe, Sandy, Jet, Ginger, Augusta and Savannah. Goodbye, Mom’s Rock. Goodbye, Camellias, Lilies, and Yuccas. Goodbye, Carved Tree. Goodbye, Persimmons, Apples, Pears and Muscadines. Goodbye, Little Lane. Goodbye, Wildness and Country. Thank you for seeding gratitude, resilience, joy, ingenuity, creativity, beauty, stewardship, and peace into my childhood.

©2014 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.