I was the seventh generation to live on the family farm. Of course, it doesn’t look the same as it did for the earlier generations. The house was built in 1907. My parents have made minor and major renovations. They made it into a home. I have lots of memories, and I love the house. But there’s one area I don’t visit often if given the choice: the basement.
It’s a old farmhouse basement. For those who don’t quite have the complete picture, let me share a few details. My parents “improved” the basement when I was young, partly because we didn’t have a shower upstairs – just a bathtub. It wasn’t quite enough for a family with three girls. I’m not much of a fussy girly-girl, but I didn’t linger in the shower for long, because I didn’t particularly like seeing the spiderwebs and their owners. I didn’t want to think about what might be lurking in the dark corners. I’m sure my imagination was much more graphic than reality.
I certainly appreciated the shower (there’s now a shower upstairs, which I appreciate even more), but it wasn’t optimal conditions even if they were vastly improved from the past. My parents sealed the walls and “finished” the area for the shower. However, my grandparents actually dug the basement…after the house had been built.
Yes, my grandpa dug under the house to create the basement. I picture him kneeling beside the foundation with a spoon and digging small chunks of dirt. He shoveled scoop after scoop until there was enough dirt removed under the house to fit a small piece of machinery, a belt on which to place the dirt to be carried up to ground level. While I didn’t like the basement shower, the thought of becoming a human mole appeals to me even less. I think of how dark it must have been and what critters he disturbed, not to mention the factor that there was an entire house looming over his head!
Of course, I’ve heard the story of my grandpa digging the basement throughout my childhood, but I still had questions, so I checked with my dad before writing this post. (1) Grandpa kept the foundation in tact. The walls of the basement are about 18 inches inside the foundation of the house. So, he wasn’t really digging under the foundation of the house. That would have been a bit stupid and unsafe. He dug under the space of the house inside the foundation. (2) He built supports as the space was created. Otherwise, the floors of the house would have sagged and collapsed. Yes, I know these things are probably common sense to most people, but I’m not a builder. When I heard this story as a child, I was simply in awe that my grandpa would do something so adventurous without the advanced machinery of today. I didn’t think of the practical aspects of the job.
We often think of a sound foundation being able to withstand the building on top of it. However, part of building a sound foundation is what it can withstand from beneath. That’s why people need to check for underground springs, types and quality of soil and other things that will impact the solidity of the ground beneath the foundation.
I’m thankful my parents build a shower in the basement, but my grandpa trumps them, because he was brave (and pretty cool) to dig the basement by hand. But the best choice of all was how and where to place the foundation years ago. It’s still standing strong, and it’s supported many of my life memories!
Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash. (Matthew 7:24-27)
On what is your spiritual foundation built?