The House That Built Me

Growing up I moved a lot. Like, about twelve times before the age of eighteen, a lot. Prior to moving to Rutland, I had never stayed in the same house for more than four years, and when John and I started our family, I knew the one thing I wanted to give my children was roots. I wanted them to have a house full of memories and a town where everyone knew their name. You might be surprised to know that our little ole house here on Haven Hill Road is the first and only home John and I have ever owned. Twenty years later I tell him now that wild horses couldn’t drag me out of here. This house, well, this is the house that built me. Cue the music.

I know most people create themselves when they are young and in their twenties, but I feel like I didn’t truly become me until I settled into this home. I raised my children, and made the best friends, and found my calling as a librarian, and then a teacher, all while I lived in this home. It was in this house that I learned all my important lessons – I am stronger than I thought; John Inwood is truly the other half of my heart; the love for my children is forever; I am nothing without the love and support of my friends and family. I don’t know if this is just a *Patty, you are just a little bit weird* thing, but I feel like the walls in our house rise and fall like the lungs in my chest. Taking in every moment and memory and inhaling it; holding them behind the drywall and storing them like honey in the comb. Can you see it? Every squeal of Christmas day captured in the four walls of the great room? Countless laughs around the island in the kitchen locked between the studs of those walls? And the basement? Oh, that basement…

In the six years since Luke passed away, we have made a few changes to the house, but not anything significant. Our basement has been unfinished all this time and we recently decided to not do anything too fancy but wanted to add the drywall and ceiling tiles and flooring to make it more comfortable. I know, I know, this doesn’t sound like a life-altering event, but let me tell you… I am not sure any home reno completed up to this point has caused me so much agony.

That damn basement. Luke lived in that space as soon as we would let him. He was down there hanging out with his friends; he had his gaming system set up and ran all his COD matches from the basement; eventually he slept down there and there were countless mornings I would tromp down the steps to rouse his tired ass for school. There isn’t an inch of that space that doesn’t have Luke’s fingerprint all over it.

So, the renovation began. John enlisted Billy Oser to be the other half of BillyBarry Construction, and starting in January, the two of them spent countless nights and weekends transforming the basement. Every time they would finish something, like the when they finally got the framing completed, they would call me down to admire their work. The two of them would gush about their accomplishment and how fantastic it looked, and I would nod my head and try to say something kind. After a few moments I would take myself upstairs, pour a glass of wine, and cry.

“They are erasing my boy’s existence!” my heart lamented.

“They are burying him behind the walls!” my heart cried.

And therein was my problem. It felt like the basement and Luke were so closely tied together that to change it was to lose him all over again. With this renovation, we were moving forward, and Luke would be forever trapped behind the studs, his cussing and crying and cheering, muffled by new walls and a coat of paint. It has been heartbreaking.

So here’s what I need you to know: The finished project is incredible. John and Billy poured a lot of love into the space and I know Luke is looking down wondering why the hell we didn’t do it earlier. As for me, one night when John was out running errands, I slipped a picture of Luke through a space I could find in the wall. Some day when I am dead and gone, I imagine a new owner will want to make the basement their own…. and in tearing down the walls will find a picture of my boy and his friends. King Luke was here. Xxx

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  • Joanne Mrugala
    April 9, 2022 at 8:07 pm

    You are a very special lady Miss Patty. Those who know you will be better for it. You are amazing..

    • pattyinwood
      April 18, 2022 at 4:02 pm

      Awww thank you, Joanne! I am so grateful that the Universe has brought us together. Xxx