When we moved into our current home about 40 years ago, it seemed perfect for us.
We had three small children with number four due in a few months. The house was close to church, school and downtown.
There was a big backyard, which we fenced in so it was safe for the children’s play. There was a nice sized tree right outside of the window over the kitchen sink. I spent a lot of time there over the years watching the backyard, the tree, and the children playing. There was plenty of room to grow, and grow we did.
Not very long after we moved in, I decided it would be nice to have a bathroom downstairs. I began to plan how we could expand the kitchen out a few feet, turn the steps to the basement around and put a little bathroom in what had been the basement way. I thought about it a long time before I proposed the idea to my husband.
He said he thought it was a good idea, and we began to pursue it. We didn’t get very far because he told me the tree outside the kitchen window would have to go. I couldn’t even think about losing that tree. So we continued to have one bathroom, upstairs.
The tree grew almost as rapidly as our family. Our boys believe it was because the tree was big enough that they could stand behind it, where I couldn’t see them, and relieve themselves instead of going upstairs to the bathroom. I suspect that most of the boys in our neighborhood contributed liquid fertilizer to that tree.
Most of the neighborhood kids played in our backyard, and the boys never did seem to need to go home very often.
The limbs of that tree supported climbers, tire swings, bird and squirrel nests and feeders, along with balls and other toys that were thrown up and never returned to earth. There were other trees in our yard, but I just never did bond with them like I did with the maple tree outside the kitchen window.
Every time we would think of any major remodeling, Bill would play his trump card, the tree out back would have to go, and the remodeling plans would be put aside for some other time.
One by one, our eight children grew up, married and moved to other houses. The next thing we knew, the house that was big enough to raise eight children in was too small for the two of us.
Some of our children told us it was time for us to move to a new one story house.
We thought about it. We even went house hunting. We looked at new homes and at older homes. We decided we had to have a basement, an attic and two bathrooms along with the usual rooms.
After a considerable amount of time of looking for our ideal home, we discovered we already had it. Or at least we would have it if we just put another bathroom downstairs. And, best of all, we wouldn’t have to move.
Bill and his friend came up with what they thought was a great idea. We would simply attach a porta-potty outside the window, and you’re in the bathroom. I vetoed that as they howled with laughter. Some boys never grow up.
But they opened my eyes to another possibility. We could add on a very small room just big enough for a commode and a sink. We would only have to move one filing cabinet, and the tree could stay. Bill just gave me the husband look that says, “I’m tired of trying to explain,” and told me to call a contractor.
Finally, one came by to make an estimate. He listened politely to my idea, looked at the space available, and then very diplomatically explained that in that small space one would have to slip onto the commode sideways and set with the sink in her lap. Not a pretty picture.
But, if you’ve been by our house lately you know that was not the end of the original idea.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate June 4, 2003.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.