Monday, May 27, 2013

Sentimental Old Man

When you are getting older you are prone to discover things with yourself you never knew existed. And sometimes these realizations are coming upon you in the most unexpected ways.
For me, yesterday was such a day. 
I had a premonition that I should call a friend in Alberta. There has been a 4 months or so of silence between us. That’s kind of unusual. Either I picked up the phone or she did – it never took several months between the calls.

So here I’m dialing her number but instead of the ringing on the other end I hear a voice telling me that the line is no longer in use. That startled me.
Knowing her, she is the most phone-connected person in the world. I could never sit with her without the phone ringing, interrupting our conversation.
And now there was no phone anymore!

I became very concerned. What had happened? Could we find out? How about calling neighbours or friends?

We finally decided that we would call one of our former neighbours from the other side of the lake. She would know.

So we found that number and called.

But she didn’t know what had happened, hadn’t been in contact for a long time.

My worries were growing.

”But did you hear about your former house?” she continued.

No, I hadn’t.

”They burned it down” 

“They what???”

When we sold our large property in Alberta it came with an old house from 1936. It was OUR house we lived in for 5 years. It was the house we had put so much work into, had put on a new roof, built an addition, put in new floors.

The new owner of the property wanted to build a new fancy house by the lake.

I didn’t know what to say – was totally shocked. I could not comprehend that someone would do such a thing. Burn down an old house. Old houses to me are like old people. Again and again I saw flames shooting through the roof until the structure finally gave in and collapsed in a heap. They probably removed the old standing jack pines as well. Those were the trees I mentioned just recently, one of those being transformed into a pelican with my chain saw.

My former neighbour and I agreed that we would call around to find out about our common friend and her phone. She gave me another number to someone else and promised to let me know if she heard something.

When I called the number she had given me, I was informed that my friend was well and nothing bad had happened. A rock rolled off my heart. Her phone wasn’t in use as she simply could not afford to pay the bills anymore.

That’s when it came to me. Here was a person who could not even pay for a basic phone service, and just a few miles down the road some rich oil man had burned down our house because it wasn’t fancy enough for him.
I was tremendously saddened. My friend without a phone and our old house had been burned down.

Bea said she didn’t know I was that sentimental. Maybe I am a sentimental old fool, But last night I woke up at 4am and couldn’t find more sleep.

I have renovated old houses all my life. Except for the house in Alberta they are all lived in by people who enjoy an old house. But I guess if there is too much easy oil money around people can’t understand and appreciate.



  1. Renovating old houses I have done a few and just love the way they just feel like home.
    Such a shame that some people have money to burn.

  2. It makes me very angry when a piece of history is leveled, burned, demolished or whatever. I just love old houses and the likes of them we will never see again. If their walls could talk oh what a story they would tell. It's sad, very, very sad.

  3. We have always gone back to check out our houses where we've lived. Most of them are about the same as we left them. I'd be devastated if somebody burned one of them down. Happy to hear your friend is still okay but so sad that she can't even afford a phone. Life certainly isn't fair.

  4. Like you, I am a sentimentalist too Peter. Old houses, cars,a pair of old shoes, old barns, old girlfriends, old hobbies etc. I can get sentimental over just about anything. I would really be hurt if somebody deliberately destroyed something I held close to my heart. Something I had put time, effort, & care into. I can get sentimental about even losing my best pair of old socks so yep, I know how you feel about your old house & the fate which befell it.................

  5. Even today, when we are in an area where one of us use to live, even as a child, we will drive by to see how it looks. All but one still remain. I would feel just as you.

  6. I love the older houses. They have so much character. After we retired we had a brand new house built. It had everything new from fancy tile to fancy kitchens. We hated it. Nine months later we dumped it. It never felt comfortable and never felt like home from the instant we moved in. What we thought we wanted, we hated.


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