Even on the hottest afternoons, sitting out under the huge trees that grew in Grandpa's yard...you could always find a breeze and many was the time we all shared that yard. Again....Mom was not too trusting of us kids being allowed to roam freely on the vast acres that constantly beckoned us to come explore. Her cautionary nature did not see kids running and playing in the fields....it saw a road (though not busy) in one direction, a canyon in another and Grandpa's bull in yet another. Mixed in were farm vermin right and left which about put Mom over the edge as her father and siblings ribbed her over her extreme caution. At the time I felt suffocated but now....doing it by myself and being solely responsible for the young lives God entrusted me with.....I sort of understand Mom's phobias a bit better.
As I became a young adult....the farm became my refuge. My grandfather died on my 21st birthday, but my dear aunt stayed there keeping the place comfortable and welcoming for all who wished to visit. Often I would just get in the car and drive. In a strange sort of way....even though I had never lived there....it was home to me. The barn was now gone as a tornado had damaged it beyond repair along with many other buildings. Also gone was the bull. I was well aware of the canyon and the road....so I was now free to roam those acres that had once been forbidden to me. I would walk that farm and the pasture knowing that not one spot of ground was foreign to me, for at some point my mother, her siblings, my grandparents and assorted other relatives and trodden every inch of that land. It was a part of me....but what was more....it was a part of all of us. Every Dougherty/Etier that came from the union of Ray and Grace ....it was a part of us, and it was an amazing feeling. It was ours!
Later....Aunt Margaret began to go down hill and she could no longer live on her own. My mom and aunt brought her to Kansas and the farm lay empty. The house though checked on by other local relatives regularly could easily fall prey to anyone who knew the family situation. It was decided that the farm would be sold and the house and its contents auctioned off. When I heard this.....I cried. My husband had no idea why a piece of property could hold such emotion....especially one where I had only visited but never lived. He had no idea that the house and the farm held so much of who I am and where I came from. He didn't understand the bond I had with the house, the land and the memories. It was one of the most overwhelming feelings I had ever had to that point.
The day of the auction....we were all invited. We could bid on anything we wanted. Tim offered to take me, but I couldn't. I hadn't been there since Aunt Margaret was there....and I couldn't go back and see the house empty. I preferred to keep my memories in tact. From what I understand....many of my cousins felt the same.
After the auction....the new owners eventually raised the house (a landmark since the early 1900's) and put a new home on the land. The 160 acres were also a thing of the past as the land had been sold off in parcels. Now....so I am told....it is just a little house on a little piece of land...in the country. In just a short period of time....all signs of the Dougherty place were gone. I have no first hand knowledge of any of this as I have not been back since 1994. I have though talked to my cousins about the farm. Their memories, like mine are a mix of Grandpa standing in the yard and calling the cows, the dinners around the kitchen table, the summer afternoons in the yard and the knowledge that we would always have that farm......until we didn't.
Yes....this place was special to me. It was a part of me and I have unimaginable sorrow that my own children will never know the place. It was a blessing though to have such special times with family and to be so connected with so many to a little 160 acre farm in the red dirt of Oklahoma. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything....and now........you know a little more about me!
Hope you have a wonderful and memorable Wednesday. Happy Wednesday everyone!!!