A Nice, Clean Doublewide

Driving back from town this evening, I noticed that Marguerite Brown’s old farmhouse was gone. For two years now, Marguerite has been talking about how the old homestead was to be torn down, but there never seemed to be a timeline.

Two years ago, just before winter, Marguerite announced proudly that she wasn’t spending another winter in that cold, drafty old farmhouse of hers. I had been there years before and remembered it as untouched pre-world war II. The kitchen floor was made of unfinished narrow pine boards, the wooden cabinets were naturally darkened by age, and the woodstove was the only source of heat in that part of the house. The old furnace blew some hot air into the main portion of the house, but here, too, woodstoves made the temperature more bearable on cold evenings.

After Marguerite’s husband passed away, she took in a succession of old men as boarders. They got taken care of, and I’m sure it worked for Marguerite, too. That’s how I came to see the inside of her house, doing house calls for the elderly men she took care of. A few years ago, she gave up doing that, and soon after, she started talking about not wanting to spend winters in that house anymore. Like many people around here, she decided to get “a nice, clean doublewide”, essentially two mobile homes joined into one after delivery.

She sold the acreage in the way back of her property, had her new doublewide put up behind the old farmhouse, and for a couple of years, she chipped away at going through its contents.

“You can’t imagine how much junk you gather in sixty years”, she told me. She loved her doublewide, and she often told me how glad she was to be out of her old house, but she seemed to take an awfully long time going through its contents and getting ready for its demolition. I suspected it wasn’t just a matter of going through the physical contents of the house, but also saying goodbye to the memories of the place where she spent all of her adult life, raised her children, grew old, nursed her husband through the illness that took his life, cared for a succession of elderly boarders, and then spent years alone.

Three weeks ago her eldest daughter, Molly, succumbed to pancreatic cancer. As I drove past the pile of rubble that was left of Marguerite’s house today, I wondered if losing her first born child made her finally tear down the old homestead. One more painful memory associated with it…

When I saw her last, she had asked out loud why her daughter had to die, and not her. Then she had added: “No parent should have to bury a child”.

The house where Marguerite Brown lived all her adult life, raised her children and became a widow finally got torn down this week, but as she looks out the front window of her “nice, clean doublewide” I wonder if she still won’t see it, even now that it’s gone.

3 Responses to “A Nice, Clean Doublewide”


  1. 1 Steph November 13, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Lovely insightful post.

    Poor Marguerite! I feel her pain and her loss. Having watched my own parents go through the grief of losing an adult son to oesophageal cancer, I agree with her comment that “no parent should have to bury a child.” It’s a grief that’s not in keeping with the natural order of life.

    Based on my own experience of watching my parents go into rapid decline after my brother’s death, I would anticipate that Marguerite will not have much further use of her nice, clean doublewide!

  2. 2 Cathy November 14, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    It is a cruel happening when someone must bury a child or grandchild. I feel so bad for this lady. I have been following a blog where the little boy (3yo) is dying of brain cancer.I cannot even imagine going through this.

  3. 3 Feathers November 14, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Read this the other day, deep insight, nice to know a Doctor cares so much about the people he sees and how he relates to them. That stood out so much. Often wondered how any Doctor copes/relates to all that they see every week, it must take a great deal of hard work. It goes to show that a Doctor chooses the profession because of the values they hold, they care about people. For a patient to get such a Doctor is always valued, appreciated, respected.

    Agree the worst thing possible is for a parent to bury their own child, few years ago, stood and watched a mother bury her son who had died from a drug overdose, thought then it was the worst thing ever, the day a mother has to bury her own son, to stand there, how would ever a parent recover from that fact, your hope is to leave your child behind knowing they can make it, you have done your work, hopefully by the time is it to leave. It is the saddest day ever when that happens.


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