2014-07-17 / Views

From the Braver Institute

To the new owners of the house I grew up in:

First I would like to thank you for purchasing the house from my mother. This will allow her to relax a little more knowing that she no longer needs to maintain a house she is not living in.

I would also like to congratulate you on the purchase of a fine home. Though the house is nearly a half-century old, you are the second owners.

You should know that the house is not perfect, then again no house is. The construction of a new house is a series of compromises that starts with the foundation and ends somewhere in the finishing touches. If at any point during this process one of the many people who worked to build it makes a mistake, however slight, a correction must be made to make the house right again. Invariably this results in something being out of plumb or square somewhere, or it may simply leave you thinking “I wonder why they did it that way?”

Through the years there have been many things that have had to be repaired or replaced. Some of these things were done right, and then some of these things were done by my dad. As well intentioned as he was, my dad wasn’t really a handyman. He could work on cars and trucks, but things involving lumber gave him trouble.

There are also some repairs that I did and I must shoulder some of the blame for things that might make you scratch your head. Many repairs were done right but others were late-night, stop-gap measures to fix things like plumbing leaks. Other haphazard repairs were made when I was younger and did not have the skill set I have now. That said, the house is completely functional.

You should also know that the yard used to be nothing but sand, pocked with tufts of grass. The whole neighborhood was that way. Everyone spent days, weeks and years trying to coax a lawn to grow. Most people brought in top soil. We brought in horse manure from my uncle’s farm in Skandia because it was free and I was the unpaid workforce who was available to spread it across the yard. The neighborhood smelled like a barn and all of my friends abandoned me. That was the price we paid to have the lawn and as you can tell it still struggles to look like one, but it’s not bad considering where it came from.

The variety of flowering plants growing along the front of the house were the result of the labors of my grandparents on both sides of the family. When things are in bloom it is hard to remember how bland the front of the house once was.

The deciduous tree in the front yard is a box elder that my grandfather brought up from his farm in Wisconsin. They aren’t native to this area and it is a wonder that this one is still alive considering it has been hit by snowplow blades and is trying to take nutrition from what is essentially sand. It has been there for forty years and that is as tall as it has grown.

The south side of the house is the location of fertile soil. When my grandfather moved back from Wisconsin he brought in good soil so we could have a good garden there. He would drive out from Harvey, and later Marquette, two or three times a day to tend it. For years we had fresh tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, asparagus, and whatever else he decided to try growing there.

I am not sad that this house is no longer in my family. The house itself contains no memories. Those memories are safely kept in those of us who lived there. I am happy that you have this place to call your home now and can start on a new set of memories. It is my sincerest wish that your memories of this place will be as good as mine. Sure, as a family we had our ups and downs and went through some rocky stretches, but nothing really bad ever happened in this house and lots and lots of things that were really good did happen here.


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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by email at waye@braverinstitute.com. Visit the Braver Institute at www.braverinsitute.com.

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