Home on the Range

by Karen Hamilton

MURPHY CITY

There is a song by Miranda Lambert that is called The House that Built Me… it tells of a girl stopping to see the house where she grew up. A different family lives there now, but she just wants to poke around, and remember….
It’s not that house for me, but it is where my mom and her siblings grew up. Murphy City. It’s not a city, and I don’t know who Murphy is, but its street and trails are etched in my memories.
Grandpa’s thermos and lunch pail on the steps, the fridge in the porch well stocked with pop, the dining room table with room for one more chair.
Grandma’s office, the old greenscreen computer, her adjustable bed with room for a grand child who wanted to spend the night.
Grandpa’s chair in the living room, with the TV just a little too loud and today’s paper waiting to be read. Grandma’s BB gun, the old Jeep in the backyard, the wheelers and/or sleds waiting for a ride. The lot, ready for a volleyball net or a baseball game or kick the can.

Grandma and Grandpa are living with Auntie and Uncle now. They worried about what would happen to the house. I blurted out in a text to my cousin one day that we should buy it, then walked into the living room…
“… Grandma and Grandpa are worried about what will happen to their house now that they are living with Auntie…”
“We should buy it,” my husband Tom said and made me cry. I didn’t want to ask, he didn’t wait for me to.
There is a lifetime of stuff here. Lots to go through, divide up, haul out.
I’m happy to keep the 1970s volleyball trophies in the entry stairwell, and Grandma’s salt and pepper shakers in the cabinets around the top of the kitchen. The owl canisters can stay on the counter.
It’s still the Kuehl residence. Someday I’ll call it my house. Our son Tanner already calls it home.
“Grammy, I show you where the bathroom is…” Tanner said as he takes my Mom by the hand when she said she needed a restroom the other day. He showed her the bathroom, in the house where she grew up.
A spacious log home in the mountains of Montana? That isn’t my dream home, this is way better.
Karen Hamilton is an Ely Memorial Class of 1997 graduate.