Last summer, I had the opportunity to return to my home town, in Pennsylvania. My sisters had planned a July family reunion.
This was good timing. I had not been home since my parents had passed away. My father died in 2014 and my mother, in 2015.
It just doesn’t seem possible that they are gone.
My father grew up downtown. He lived in a row house about three blocks from the city square.
My mother grew up on a farm, smack dab in the middle of the Amish country.
When my parents married, my dad purchased a row house, just a few doors from where his father lived.
We didn’t have to go far to visit this grandpa, which we did often.
On my mom’s side, we visited her father’s farm, at least twice a week.
Most of the time, my grandpa had dinner cooking, when we arrived.
It’s interesting that both of my parents lost their mothers when they were young. My mom was 7 years old, and my dad was 9.
That would have been rough, although, neither knew any different.
Every Sunday we’d travel to the farm, after church. We’d have a huge family dinner, with either homemade rice pudding or homemade ice cream, which we churned.
Oh, how I treasured our visits to the farm.
I can still hear the Amish horse and buggies, clippity clop, on the road by my grandfather’s house.
My mother always spoke kindly about their neighbors, the Lapps. The Lapps, who were Amish, lived closest to Mom’s home.
It’s been a few decades since those weekly farm visits. I cherish the memories.
Shortly before last years’ reunion, my sister called to tell me that grandpa’s house had been sold to the Lapps. Mr. Lapp was tearing Grandpa’s house down.
Apparently, Mr. Lapp attempted to remodel the home, for his daughter. But the house was too old, and had been damaged by renters.
Normally, Amish do not have phones. However, Mr. Lapp had put a phone in his barn, so he could sell anything salvageable from Grandpa’s house.
I phoned Mr. Lapp to ask him to put aside ten bricks for me, which he agreed to do.
In all the years, we visited the farm; we had never met the Lapps.
As soon as I arrived for the reunion, my sister drove me to Grandpa’s farm. It was so sad to see the house torn down.
As we pulled off the dirt road and onto the Lapp property, we passed a large barn, and two silos. We next passed a few buggies and horses.
As we drove closer to the house, we came upon Mr. Lapp’s great-grandchildren, who were running barefooted or riding on scooters.
Black pants, black aprons and solid colored shirts were hanging on the clothes line. Mr. Lapp’s 90-plus-year-old father was reading the newspaper at a picnic table.
Mr. Lapp’s wife was canning green beans and cooking dinner. She stepped outside, and waved hello.
Mr. Lapp was out in the field with the older children, planting tobacco.
I visited with old Mr. Lapp, who knew my youngest aunt. They had attended the same one room schoolhouse.
Soon enough, one of the kids out in the field motioned to us to return to grandpa’s farm.
I didn’t want to leave the Lapps. I felt as if I had stepped back in time.
(Next week, Grandpa’s Farm Part 2)
Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.