They Say You Can’t Go Home Again

Graf Farm Barn ReplacementI knew this was going to be a tough day because this was the day we were going down to Lismore, Minnesota and would be driving past the old family farm.  It is so hard to see how the current owners have torn down all the old farm buildings and the farmhouse that my grandpa built for my grandma.  All that remains of the farm I loved so much is the old garage which is off to the left and not really visible in this picture and some of the original grove.  The 3 “Heidi” trees are still in the front along the road and those are the trees that I used to stand under while eating slabs of cheese on warm fresh-baked bread.  I’d listen to the wind and pretend that I was Heidi up in the Swiss Alps (a stretch, to be sure when you are standing out on the Midwestern prairie) eating some cheese that my grandfather had just made from goat milk.

New House on Graf FarmWhen the farm was first sold, the first thing the owners did was burn down the farmhouse and move in a trailer.  That was so hard to bear.  At least they now have built a nice-looking house and the crummy trailer is long gone.  It also looks like they’ve put in some new trees which will eventually become a new grove to replace the stand of trees that they tore down.  But they also tore down the one-room schoolhouse that we had moved onto the property and renovated.  It had been the schoolhouse that my grandfather had attended as a boy.  Oh, the memories.  It is so hard to take that it is gone now.

George in CemetaryWe drove on to the Protestant cemetary outside Lismore, Minnesota.   There are two cemetaries for Lismore.  There is a Catholic cemetary which is much larger and better “developed” and the simpler, more rustic Protestant cemetary.  This latter one is where my ancestors are buried.  The Grafs have a large plot and it is where my grandparents are buried and where my mother will be buried.  Oh yes, and it is where I plan to be buried.  My mother went ahead (she being the practical one) and bought her tombstone ahead of time and then had the fellow engrave her name AND my name on the stone, of course leaving off the final dates.

My PlotIt’s a strange thing to stand next to your tombstone but it’s there so hey, might as well take a picture with it, right?  Usually it is my mom and I posing but Mom can’t travel anymore so I’m left to stand awkwardly beside the stone.  On the plus side, I’ve always loved this location because it is out in the middle of the farmland, surrounded by pasture and crops.  And you can see our old farm off in the distance, not that I’m going to be standing by the fence looking at it when the time comes but I do hope that someday my children will make the pilgrimage out here and gain some idea of why I loved this area so much.

Presbyterian Church LismoreFrom there we drove into Lismore and went past the old Presbyterian Church where my grandma and mom attended for many years.  Grandma played the organ there and we attended there, too in the summers.  It is still an active church and it looks pretty good for its age.  Van Rossum House in Lismore We also drove past the old Van Rossum home where my grandmother grew up as a girl.  It is still standing next to the grain elevator in town, although it’s had some minor modifications done to it over the years.  But you can see the main bones of the house, even so.

I’ll leave you today with a picture of the view from our grave plot.  It’s looking out over the pasture to the left of the plot.  My uncle used to own a farm on the other side of the pasture but all the buildings have been torn down now and its a cornfield.  Maybe you can’t go home again, but you can still remember  the way it was.

View From Our Gravesite

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