My grandmother died back in '98. She was in her late 90s when she passed away. Yes, 90s. My father had been the last born of 7 children. Anyway, towards the end she needed close supervision. She couldn't see that well (cataracts), was falling down too often, and would forget things like turning off the stove. My aunts, uncles and a few cousins who had free time set up a rotation schedule to look after her. That worked for a while but got bogged down with schedule conflicts. It was decided by all that one of my cousins and her children would move in and take care of my grandma until she passed on at which point my cousin could keep the house. My grandmother eventually did pass away, just a month after the last time I saw her on a trip to Merced.
Anyway, my cousin has decided to tear down the house and build a new one on the same spot. She's currently in the process of moving the belongs out of the house. I can't argue with her logically because that house is old. The house is a one-story with an attic. I've been in that attic only once in my life. The house is unusual in that it has a crawlspace. That's a rarity in Merced where almost everything is on a slab. It was built by my grandfather, uncles and friends way back when they moved to Merced from Merced Falls, a small community made up of a few families which I don't think even exists anymore. The wiring is beyond old; my dad often acted as the electrician when something went wrong. The floorboards squeak, especially in the kitchen and hallway. There's just one bathroom. So, I can understand why she'd want to start over.
But damnit, that house has memories! Of me and my sister parked in front of the TV watching Spanish channels incomprehensibly while my grandma and parents talked. Memories of times when my grandma would babysit us (no small feat considering she spoke no English, and we no Spanish) where we'd play La Lotería. Memories of big family holiday get-togethers, especially Thanksgiving, where there was food - and family members - as far as you could see. Memories of the breakfast egg & bean burritos she used to make for me and my sister before school. Or the freshly-made tortillas and Mexican sweetbreads she used to buy for us at the local panadería. Of the noisiness of her birds in the dining room that she would chide but wouldn't let anyone else do the same. Of the stray cats who often lived under the crawlspace that she used to feed in the morning just after she'd dump out the used coffee grinds from the back porch. Of days in the summer where my sister and I would park ourselves in front of the swamp cooler in the living room for moments of peace, until we'd start picking on each other again. Memories of being on the front porch eating grapes and loquats that grew in the yard. Memories of my sister laughing at me while my grandma would try to remove a splinter from my hand via a needle (and boy did she dig with that needle!) Memories of me laughing at my sister as my grandma brutally removed tangles from my sister's hair.
All of this will be gone soon. Yes, I'll have the memories but after my grandma's passing there's very little left physically of her around. And I do consider that house a part of her.