I grew up next door to my grandparents. They owned a small house at the top of a hill on a sprawling piece of farm and forest.
My childhood home was at the bottom on the hill.
As a boy, I saw the two properties as one. One enormous adventure-land to explore.
On Saturday, we attended our annual family picnic at the former home of my grandparents. My great uncle - the last resident of my grandparent's home - passed away earlier this year, so it's likely that the house and the land will eventually be sold, bringing an end to the seven generations of family members who have lived on that property.
It's sad to see a place with so much history and heart be lost.
Every time I visit my grandparent's home, I look down upon my own childhood home, lost in my mother and stepfather's divorce. Just before the home was sold to the current residents about six years ago, my high school sweetheart, Laura, a real estate agent at the time, took me through the house for one final tour. At the time, the house looked almost exactly like I had remembered it.
I thought for sure that I would never see the inside of my childhood home again.
Enter Charlie's poop.
In the midst of the picnic, Charlie had to poop. As is customary, he waited until the last moment and was in full panic mode as I carried him to the single functioning bathroom in my grandparent's home.
The door was closed. Someone was inside.
Charlie screamed in agony as I loudly assured him that whoever was behind the door would quickly vacate the premises.
After a protracted length of time, the door finally open and the occupant said, "I'm sorry. It was clogged when I walked in."
The toilet was overflowing. It was a disaster. I attempted to plunge it with no success as Charlie wailed. Finally, I grabbed Charlie and ran to the stairs, trying to remember if there was a bathroom on the second floor. I started up the first step with Charlie in my arms, forgetting that the doorways are short in my grandparent's house, and I smashed Charlie's head into the door jam, causing him to wail even louder.
I didn't know what to do. I was panicked. I called for Elysha.
It turns out that Elysha knew exactly what to do. She grabbed Charlie from my arms and said, "We're going to your old house."
The current residents of my childhood home were hosting a birthday party for their teenage daughter in the backyard. We walked down the hill and over to the couple who we presumed were the owners. "I need help," Elysha said and explained the situation.
"Of course," the woman said, rising to lead us to the bathroom.
"It's okay," I said. "I grew up in this house. I know where the bathroom is."
So once again, I found myself inside my childhood home. Charlie was sitting on the same toilet I had sat on thousands of times during my fourteen years in the house. Much work had been done on the interior of the house. It looked better than it ever had when I was a child, but the layout was the same.
I could still see my childhood beneath the new countertops, stained floors, and tiled backsplash. The memories were still there, alive and well.
I spent an hour in the house with the new owners, swapping stories. Talking about the neighborhood and my many relatives on the street. Answering questions to mysteries they had yet to solve about the house.
Yes, our washer and dryer were in the kitchen. Right beside the refrigerator. It didn't seem strange at the time, but boy does it seem odd now.
Yes, my father converted the garage into stables. Horses lived where cars were once parked.
Yes, this pile of stones was once a flower bed that my mother loved.
Yes, those were the names of me and my siblings, written beneath the wallpaper in the bathroom.
Yes, I lived in that unheated disaster of a room in the basement.
No, those chalk drawings on the basement walls weren't done by me. They were done by my aunts - both now deceased - who lived in the house before I did.
The owners couldn't have been more gracious, and I was so pleased to show Charlie my childhood home. It was good to see the house being so well taken care of, too. It looks better than it ever has before. It's sad that our family no longer lives on that beautiful piece of property, but it's good to see good people living in the space where I have so many memories.
It was so happy to see it again. So happy to step back into the past for a little while.
All thanks to an untimely poop and a blocked up toilet.