Today’s post is a guest blog written by our assistant, Jessica Gagne. Enjoy!
This week marks the end of an era in my life. The last few boxes are being moved out of the home that my great grandmother’s parents left to her — a home that has been in my family for almost 90 years. I admit I never thought this day would come. I assumed “The Apartments,” as my family calls them, would remain in the Gagne name as long as they stood, but with the economy the way it currently is, sacrifices had to be made. The buildings were becoming too costly to maintain, so it was decided that they had to be sold.
The Apartments aren’t that much to look at from the outside: they are two white, rectangular, three-story buildings with flat roofs that are separated only by a ten foot wide driveway. They stand atop a steep, 50 foot tall embankment that leads down to the river that cuts through my home town. The views from the property are nice, but the surrounding neighborhood is not. If you were driving by them, they would blend in to the sea of apartments that surround them, giving you no indication of being special.
Inside is where all the beauty truly lies. One of my family members has lived on every floor of both buildings. I learned to play Canasta from my great grandmother on the first floor of building two. I had long dinner talks with my Dad and step mother when they lived on the third floor of building one while waiting for their new house to be finished. My aunts and uncles have all resided in a unit at one point, and my great grandparents lived their most of their lives. The walls are filled with memories of holidays, births, deaths, hopes and dreams, and to me, walking through the buildings is like walking through an album of memories in my head. Every nook and cranny has a story to tell.
I never had a “house that I grew up in.” My father was in the military, and my mother’s job switched locations based on contracts, so the average time my parents stayed in one place was about two years. But my great grandparents and grandparents never moved. In fact, my great grandmother spent majority of her life (about 80 years) in the same unit of The Apartments! Also, my grandparents had lived in their unit since my father was born. I remember visiting The Apartments as far back as I can remember anything. This was the only place I could really call my childhood home, because it was the only place that was always there, and there was so much comfort in knowing that.
I thought my memories would be the only piece I could take from the apartments until my step-mother made a surprising discovery in a pile of boxes headed for the dump. Inside one box was a suitcase full of hundreds of tiny slides that my great grandmother had kept of special events in her life. Pictures of my grandparents’ wedding, my aunt’s prom, my father being sworn in the the Coast Guard, and a whole sleeve dedicated to The Apartments themselves! Pictures of them with my grandfather’s police cruiser in front, pictures of when enclosed porches were added to the buildings in the 70s, and pictures of my family, inside and outside, showing how the buildings and the people who lived there had grown over the years. It was a preserved album of my family and my home.
I am so lucky to have this treasure, and so thankful that my great grandmother took the time to organize, label and save these memories for us. If she were still here I am sure we would be chatting away about the photos over Canasta (which she always won) and laughing about the old clothes and decor that were in fashion back then. My family plans to take the slides and have them converted picture files so we can make a slide show DVD to pass on to our future generations. Because of my great grandmother’s efforts, I will always be able to take a piece of my home, and of her, with me.