Writing about “Grandma Kirby‘s house” is surprisingly difficult. Not emotionally. I have already mourned its loss. The home was sold out of our family in the early 2000s and was torn down in 2013. What makes it difficult is knowing what “facts” I remember are actually true. Between what my parents, my grandma, and my siblings have told me and the things I may have imagined as a kid, it is hard to know for sure what actually was.
The #52ancestors prompt of “The Old Homestead” has got me realising how little I know about the home that made me feel most connected to my family history.
Here is what I definitely know about the home:
- My dad, as an only child, grew up in the home with his parents and, before their death, his paternal grandma and grandpa. That’s three generations of Kirby’s under one roof.
- It was a farm home. Grandpa Kirby raised mink. I don’t know that acreage of the farm. When my grandpa passed away my widowed grandma had to sell much of the land, but kept a pasture to the north of the home.
- The flowering bushes and trees reflected my heritage: Yellow English rose, lilac, snowball. Culturally I am both English and Danish American.
- My grandpa added the kitchen, bathroom, stairs, and top-level (one large bedroom with a walk-in closet) of the home.
- It was originally a two room home with a parlor in the front and the family’s living area in the back.
- It had no curb appeal as far as modern standards go. My grandma loved to let the trees grow wild. It was the best yard for adventures.
- Although the kitchen had all of its original fixtures, the best food came from it.
Here’s what I think I know about the home:
- It was the original home for the Kirby’s that first settled in Hyde Park.
Here’s what I thought as a child that I am certain now are not true:
- The flowering trees and bushes were brought across the plains by my pioneer ancestors.
- The basement, which was all dirt and cement, was haunted
Despite the history of the home, what made it special was the love that existed in that home. Grandma Kirby was a refuge for my siblings and I and so was her home. We celebrated Memorial Day and Thanksgiving in her home. We visited her basically every time we drove through Hyde Park, which for my dad was every day. To say that her home was our second home would be oversimplifying things. It was an extension of our home.
As of today, if you pull up the address on Google Maps street view, it is still there. For me, looking at it through the trees I used to play in is like looking at a ghost.