We bought our home in 1979. At that time, it was a one-story 600 sq. ft. cottage. There was a carport, a woodshed, and four acres of pasture. We moved into the house the following spring.
My wife was pregnant with our first child. In the 70s and 80s, two of our closest friends were practicing midwives in the Columbia Gorge. We enlisted them to help us with home births. Our obstetrician supported their work and provided the pre-natal care.
Noah, our oldest son, arrived on July 1, 1980. My wife’s labor began normally. Yet, after ten hours of contractions, the birth stalled. Physical evidence of complications necessitated a trip to the hospital. We were prepared for everything, except the logistics of departure. Eventually, it all turned out fine, but the madcap mobilization still provides laughs in the recounting these many years later.
Isaac came along on July 8, 1982. My wife enjoyed (LOL) another lengthy labor. This time, though, she completed the delivery at home. Ike’s bluish skin color was initially a concern but the midwives remedied the situation with suction and a few good slaps on his butt.
Everything happened as we hoped… up to a point. Noah was in attendance along with the midwife’s children. I cut the cord. Isaac yowled occasionally, assuring everyone of his good health. Then… my wife suddenly became pale as flour. She lost consciousness. The midwives quickly determined she was hemorrhaging.
Fortunately, the angel of innocence attended this birth as well as the previous one. Another slapstick escapade ensued, only this time we had a newborn in good trim but a mother in distress. We called an ambulance. The midwives insisted we not wait. So, we piled everyone into an old station wagon. Within a few miles we met the ambulance and switched vehicles, arriving at the hospital emergency room and the capable hands of our doctor.
Our house started to grow. We knocked out walls and installed new windows. We added a master bedroom and living room with vaulted ceilings. We built an east facing deck outside our front door. The boys got a play shed and a treehouse. We planted trees, grew a garden, and when Noah became a teenager, we put up a second story so the boys could have their own rooms. Their labor, birth room, and nursery transformed into a comfortable den with a 48” TV.
When, finally, we got the sizing just right, the boys were grown and destined to leave the homestead. We became empty nesters. That phase was briefly interrupted when one son bounced back due to an injury. Serious though it was, his determination allowed him to follow the winding road of dreams open to us all. When he settled into permanent work as a lawyer, the empty nesting reoccurred. We agreed to sell the house and move into town.
After nine months on the market, our house has found buyers. They are a young, newly married couple with enthusiasm and energy. This will be their first home purchase.
We have also made an offer on a house in Hood River. It meets our criteria of single story with a yard for flowers and shrubs. My wife can walk to her office and the sports club. I can even walk to my monthly appointments at the hospital for labs and visits with the oncologist who monitors my cancer, multiple myeloma.
Our sons seem more sentimental than us about the move. The house and its rural setting are woven into the magical tapestry of their childhood. Their connection goes back to the small converted bedroom that served as their entry into life. In effect, we are all cutting the cord that attached us to a place of shared beginnings.
Our old house provided many things: shelter, a sense of place from which to explore the world, and a repository for the numerous secrets that accrue with the passage of time. Soon, we will empty our country home of its contents. But we will carry the memories in a virtual bank from which we can withdraw the savings of our history together.