This is what I wrote a year ago -
August 18, 2008
What you’re looking at here is ‘Grandpa’s Farm’. There is a song my family sings about Grandpa’s Farm and although this is a barn, to the little kids in my family, the barn is the farm.
We’ve watched Grandpa (Dad to me) build this barn from the foundation up, one nail at a time. He built the trusses himself, and pounded every nail with a hammer, not a nail gun.
Grandpa’s barn has been in the building process for nearly 6 years. Grandpa designed and drew the floor plans himself, and has put all of his heart and soul into his barn.
We have a lot of memories associated with this barn and with the ‘farm’ but this last weekend we created new memories, and for all of us, they will probably always remain our best memories.
We held our first annual ‘Platt Family Campout’. In preparing for such an event we wondered if it was really worth the effort. Although Grandpa’s barn had plenty of room for all of us to sleep, we wanted the real experience. We pitched our tents, built our campfire, brought out the tinfoil dinners, and watched as the full moon lit the sky.
Saturday morning started early, but thanks to Grandpa, his warm campfire kept the chill away. The kids were all happy and excited about being at Grandpa’s Farm and after a somewhat sooty breakfast of bacon cooked over the fire, and pancakes, we started our own version of the Olympics.
Grandpa had been planning these Olympics for weeks. He had events that he was sure each of the grand kids could win a gold medal in. We started with the kids marching in behind a torch; Tiff sang the national anthem, while Mom blew the pretend trumpet. And then we watched as the kids participated in a race, in a tumbling routine, on the balance beam, in a shot put competition, in an archery competition, and in a ball throwing competition.
We have some future Olympians to be sure. Allie, who is 7, will someday be world famous for her archery skills, and Erika, who is 5, will be a world class gymnast. The Olympics ended with an award ceremony, and each of the grand kids was presented with a gold medal, which they wore the remainder of the day.
The adults messed around for a while with Grandpa’s bow and his rifle, and then we took the kids for a hike. The boys ran and jumped in the dirt, and the girls picked wildflowers to give to their mommies. We had a lunch of roasted hot dogs, and then began the process of cleaning up. It was a short weekend, but one filled with laughs and memories.
As we left Grandpa’s Farm the kids and adults alike were already talking about next year’s 2nd Annual Campout. Grandpa even went so far as to suggest that by next year we might have running water and a real bathroom…oh the anticipation!
Early Sunday morning – about 12:30am – Dad got a phone call telling him that his barn was on fire. Within just 20 minutes the dream that Dad has spent the last 6 years building was destroyed. There is nothing left. The fire chief and his crew did everything they could, but by the time they got there the barn was too far gone. Thankfully they were able to keep the fire from spreading up the mountain.
While the investigation is still underway, there is no doubt that the fire was started intentionally. We don’t know who or why, but Rachel summed it up perfectly when she said, “They burned down Dad’s happy place.”
Yesterday afternoon we drove back up to Grandpa’s Farm…this time with very different emotions. We have all shed tears, and in a sense we are all mourning the loss.
To the Ed Platt family this loss is much more than just a building. It symbolizes the loss of a dream…of our dad’s hope for the future.
Today Dad is convinced that he will not rebuild. We hope that as time heals his heart, he will change his mind.
Gabi, who is 3, had this to say yesterday as she saw the ruin of her Grandpa’s Farm: “Bad people who burn down my Grandpa’s Farm are stupid!” She said it with all of the emotion her little heart could muster, and while it made us laugh, it made us cry as well.
The thing that we all reminded ourselves of yesterday is this: While some horrible person can destroy the physical evidence of Dad’s dream, what his barn represented still exists, and no one can take that away. Our family will be stronger as a result of this experience and at the end of the day, Grandpa’s Farm and all it represents, is still very much a part of what our family is.
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It's been a long year for my dad. The chances of him rebuilding are slim. We've told him it doesn't matter where it is as long as some day there is a Grandpa's Farm somewhere...and I'm sure there will be.