The house that Pop Pop built


My mother's father, whom I called Pop Pop, was born in Manassas, Virginia but raised his family about 30 minutes closer to Washington DC in Alexandria. Just off Little River Turnpike are a collection of houses in varying styles, built in various decades, on streets with either names of Native American tribes or on numbered cross streets. My Pop Pop built the first home he and his family lived in right across the street from this home, the one he built once the smaller one across the street was rendered insufficient.

I have SO many memories in this house, from playing with my cousins as a toddler to hearing stories from Pop Pop about my mom and her siblings to caring for my ailing grandmother, Nanny, who passed away here in 1989. I haven't been able to step inside the house since she passed, and now that it has new owners, I suppose that's best (ha). At some point along the way, the owners of the property sold off the back half-acre, which usually housed a shed, a tractor and a very large garden. On its back porch was where I bit into fresh, homegrown tomatoes and swung with my Nanny on the painted metal porch glider while she smoked and laughed her scratchy, amazing laugh.

Usually Em and I just wave and say "Hi Nanny and Pop Pop's house!" as we drive by the neighborhood, but today we turned into it and drove up their street. I knew that the azalea bushes that lined the front of the house would be in bloom, as all azaleas in the area popped open over the past week or so, and I wanted to see the house in all her glory. Sadly, the largest azalea, which was just under that bay window, doesn't seem to have weathered the years. But the rest are bright and beautiful as always.

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All content © Meaghan O'Malley, 2009-2012. Header image by Rebekka Seale.