As the strong southerly wind blew away more than a hundred years of dust, I was thankful the memories couldn't be swept away as easily.
On April 29, my Grandma and Grandpa Neelly's house came tumbling down. It had stood for more than 100 years in Pratt County, though we're not exactly sure when it was built. My grandparents, Shelby and Lela Neelly, moved into the house in May 1942 with their two small girls - 6-year-old Janis and 4-year-old Merlene.
It was the house where they spent their growing up years, the years before they became wives and mothers and grandmas themselves.
On April 29, my mom, Janis, was the only one of the four to witness the end of the era.
Grandma died in 1989, really before either of my kids could know her. Grandpa celebrated his 100th birthday in 2004 and then died the next spring in 2005. Merlene died unexpectedly in 2007. To be sure, we all carried their memories in our hearts and minds that morning.
After people had removed doors and other salvagable items, it was definitely a little worse for the wear. The "bones" still looked like my home away from home, a place where my sisters and my brother had built memories with my grandparents, who lived only 7 miles away from our house.
The house had stood empty since 2004. At age 100, my Grandpa still lived in the old farm house. A few months after we celebrated his personal centennial, pneumonia finally forced him to move to a nursing home.
The excavator made quick work of the demolition job. The demolition man arrived at 8 AM and dug a huge hole in the backyard. It was where my Grandma's irises once blossomed. I never see iris without thinking of her backyard.
By 9:30, the machine made the first "chomp" with its massive jaws and the walls began tumbling down. The garage had been added when I was a kid. It went down much more quickly than it went up.
It was a morning of mixed emotions. No one had lived in the house since Grandpa moved out. It wasn't a practical candidate for renovation. It was poorly insulated (though Grandpa insisted otherwise). It would have cost far more to renovate than it would to start from scratch.
With the propensity for old farmhouses to become havens to meth labs and other criminal activity, my parents felt fortunate that the house escaped that fate.
So it was time ...
... time to say goodbye to a house whose very rooms were stuffed to the brim with memories, even though the people and the things that made it a home were long gone.
It took little more than an hour for the entire structure to look more like the pick-up sticks we used to play with as kids.
And not long after that, many of the remnants of the old two-story house were pushed into the hole.
By 2:20, all that was left was broken up concrete. The cement was from the slab by their garage, where my folks would park during our visits and we kids would run through the garage and through Grandma and Grandpa's back door.
The brooder house also ended up in the cavernous hole. Grandpa, a K-State fan through and through, painted it and many other outbuildings purple after Grandma died.
That little brooder house was the first home for each spring's arrival of chicks. We didn't have chickens at home, so it was an adventure at Grandma's and Grandpa's house. We'd run out and watch the fluffy yellow chicks grow and change as they got stronger under the glow of heat lamps.
We grew and changed, too, at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Tomorrow: What makes a house a home? Memories live on ...