|Home of my birth on Sydenham Street in Dresden. A water|
colour painting of how I remember it, circa 1945. Note:
original front door key, inset.
It was with a degree of surprise that I learned that a number of others knew exactly what I meant and the majority related it to memories of the home in which they grew up. I don't mind saying that there was comfort in being in the company of kindred spirits on this particular occasion.
With self-admitted resolve, I mentioned that the sad reality of visits to old homes is that they change. They do not look the same and they do not feel the same. They are not our homes any more -- they belong to someone else.
But you know what, no amount of paint, structural changes and landscaping can ever change our fond memories and what remains in our hearts of the home in which we grew up -- of the home we shared with loved ones, of the home that was our adolescent refuge from a world we had yet to understand, of the home where we could just be comfortably ourselves.
Indeed, places change and people change, but the memories that are etched on our hearts are indelible.
I was born and raised in an old brick home on Sydenham Street in Dresden, built by my grandfather Wesley Wright in 1878. Both sets of grandparents (Wes and Louise Wright and Nelson and Harriet Perry) died there, as did my mother and father. When my mother Grace passed away in 1994, I had no choice but to sell the property with mixed emotions. The new owners have done a wonderful job of remodelling the century home and I am happy that they have taken pride in much needed upgrading and renovations. In essence, they have made it their own, as it should be.
I have been back to Dresden numerous times in the past 18 years, but I now purposely avoid Sydenham Street. I passed by it again just two weekends ago. In fact the surroundings at the corner of Sydenham and North Street (Highway 21) had changed so drastically from what I remember that I was well on my way out of town before I realized that I had passed the old intersection. I did not turn around and go back.
I resist the impulse to "see" the house as it is today. I prefer to cling to the "eternal" memories of my old home as it was -- our comfortable front porch where we spent so many summer evenings drinking ice tea and visiting with neighbors and family, my bedroom where I listened to Lux Radio Theatre, Jack Benny, Amos and Andy, Hockey Night in Canada, and Detroit Tigers broadcasts on my Northern Electric table radio when I should have been doing my school homework, the living room where my father roled back the carpet to allow me to pound nails into the hardwood floor when my mother was out for the evening, the lingering smells of my mother's pot roast dinners, the large back yard where I played catch with my dad and grandfather Perry and helped tend to a substantial vegetable garden; the laughter, tears, times of prayer, Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving family gatherings. A place where my imagination and sense of creativity was allowed to develop quietly and freely, unencumbered by the influences of the outside world.
I can, and do, visit often, however -- in my mind and in recurring dreams too. I imagine the old home on Sydenham Street as being unchanged with the passage of time. It continues to be the home of my youth, even though I do not live there anymore and someone else does.
I now live in what may well be my last home and, be it ever so humble, I love it just as much as that first grand old place on Sydenham Street in Dresden. With all its cracks and blemishes, it is me. It is my contentment. There is no place I would rather be at this stage of my life. It helps to have Rosanne and Lucy there too.