In America, one tradition that still hangs around, albeit in mythological scenes, is the burning of the mortgage. Nowadays, of course, the bank (a bank which one has never heard of nor dealt with except to send housing checks to, sends a notice saying, “Oh yeah, we saw that you seem to have finished off that debt. Wanta make another?”
But the Underwoods just concluded another kind of real estate transaction, the kind that runs in families. We signed over the deed to the house that Jan has been living in — to Jan. It’s hers, now, although we have been acting as though it has been hers all these years — she paid to reroof, to add the dining/music room, to put in new windows. And she paid rent all those years that she was adding to and updating and fixing and taking care of the house.
I thought I had a photo of the old house as it was when we bought it, but it’s lost in my files. But one thing we did early on as landlords was to pay to have a small entryway and walled walkway with a “lighthouse” built. This is a photo of the entryway and wall etc. in construction.
As you can see, the front yard was all grass and the original house was a rectangle with attached garage, four rooms, built in perhaps 1949 or 1952, and lived in by a single family until finally the last remaining owner had to go to a nursing home.
So last week, after some fairly expensive lawyering and lots of signing of documents, Jan, who according to the IRS had been renting the house from us all this time, now owns it. There’s still a bit of money back and forthness to factor in, but the Tibbetts House is in her name and the responsibility which she has always taken on can now officially be credited to her.
Here she is before we signed the final papers:
Leaning on the recycling bin, no less.
And here she is afterward:
Doesn’t she look like a home owner?
The family tradition of getting the young ‘uns into a house runs in both sides of the family. My parents gave a house to my brother and his family; Jerry’s parents loaned us the down payment for our first two houses (on a handwritten IOU). And my grandparents bought my parents’ first house and helped them move it to Pine Station, Pennsylvania, where it still stands.
So real traditions as well as real transactions. And of course, you noted that Jan’s green thumb and hope for a sustainable future are evident in the change-over from lawn to gardens and trees. She promised me some plums — and I noted that the pears are coming along well. Both Jer and my parents had big gardens, but some traditions skip a generation .–June