In 1963, Erwin was 65. This was when he decided to build a new house. He hired a bulldozer so his old house could be pushed into a grove of trees. The old house still remains. When Erwin and Elinda passed, their grandson and his family moved in. The family lived there for over thirty years. The couple originally planned to burn the remains of the old home. His grandson decided to make certain nothing of value was left behind first.
His grandson and his sons walked to the meadow containing the remains of the old house. The siding had come loose and the majority of the windows were missing. They got into the house using an open window and discovered skunks beneath the floorboards. The house was a time capsule with the life of his grandparents inside. He was drawn to a cardboard box filled with papers.
He found an old tax return, canceled checks, a spelling book from the third grade and greeting cards. He told his sons nine people once lived there with no electricity or running water. He explained the only heat they had came from a cookstove. The old house was never burned. The family did not visit the old home often. He remembered when his father suffered a massive heart attack when he was only 68. He was stunned when his father passed away.
He is still unsure why he went to the old house after his dad’s funeral. He felt like the house was calling to him. He saw papers on the floor with an old envelope on top. The blue stamp said the envelope was Passed by Naval Censor. He had no idea how he could have missed it before. His father fought in World War II on the USS Washington. His grandmother saved every letter he ever wrote.
He carefully removed one of the letters from the envelope with the date of September 1944. During this time his father was eighteen and serving in the South Pacific. He read the familiar writing asking about the oat harvest and the new team of horses his uncle has purchased. He figured his youngest brother would have been in the first grade then. He wanted his mother to say hello to everyone and let them know he missed them.
He could tell the young man was homesick by his words. Most of his life had been spent on the farm, but now he was on an ocean in the middle of a war. At the bottom of the letter, one final message from his father had been underlined. There were tears in his eyes as he read the words so important to his father. He was fine, doing well and did not want his family to worry.
He looked back at the old house one more time as he left that day. This was when he decided it did not matter what anyone thought because the old house would remain exactly where it was until it rotted and became part of the earth.