Friday, August 24, 2012

Abandonment Issues: Fowler Family Farmhouse


Much like we do in other aspects of life, we put the pieces of the puzzle together, and a story emerges. Often, we are equipped with only a fraction of the pieces of any given story, and all of these pieces are subject to our own personal interpretation. Our minds wander and attempt to fill in the blanks with the most seemingly rational conclusions, naturally connecting dots with this filler info that is often based again on our own personal memories and experiences. Due to this, truth often becomes lost in our interpretations. Our reality is only as we perceive it, not as it actually is. This is why a room full of people can witness the same event, yet perceive it differently, and each leave with their own story, slightly or even vastly differing from the person beside them.

This is the story my imagination told me as I interpreted the pieces of the puzzle left behind at the Fowler Family Farmhouse.

Sarah Fowler lived the majority of her life in this red brick farmhouse in Oakwood, Ontario. On September 16th, 1984, the widow Fowler was gifted a plaque from the Oakwood United Church. The Award of Affection & Esteem read "...who has contributed richly to Church & Community during her 90 years among us." She loved to play the piano, cook for her children, and spent a lot of time cataloging family photographs into albums. The matriarch of the Fowler family had four children that were raised in this home: Nadine, Trevor, Keith and Donald. Donald was the youngest of the clan, born on June 26th of 1963, and was affectionately referred to in his early years as Donnie. It was Donald that maintained the farm after his parents had passed, and resided in the family homestead with his own wife and children, until it was abandoned sometime in the early 2000s. In 1983, Donald was a card carrying member of the Canadian Trotting Association. In June of 1985, he received diplomas from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Peterborough, in Business Administration Accounting, and Business Administration Materials Management. Generations of Fowlers grew up in this five bedroom house, stocking it with trophies of all kinds. Donald and his family also amassed giant collections of VHS tapes and liquor. Many of his mother's antique belongings remained in the home, amongst god-awful 1980s furniture. From the coffee table, John Lithgow smirked up at me on the cover of a TV guide, dated 2001.

It is unclear if it was descendent's of the family, or looters that have rifled through the dresser drawers and kitchen cupboards, but someone has done just that, leaving piles of possessions scattered. The furniture remains, as does a few half full or half empty bottles of alcohol, depending on how you look at them. As a recovering alcoholic, early on in my sobriety, this was a mindfuck that took me a minute to shake, but I put it behind me.

Part of me wishes I could paint a more accurate picture of the Fowler family, and truly discover and tell their story, digging deep into who they actually were. What made them tick, what were they passionate about, what character defects did they have, what became of them, what legacy was left behind, how do their friends remember them? Those sorts of questions linger. But it is those very unanswered questions that continue to inspire me to seek out and explore these forgotten farmhouses. It is the unknown that excites me. It is the thought that life is so very precious, and it can all come to an end at any moment. What we leave behind is all that is physically left of us and our stories. I may only uncover minute fractions of these stories with each exploration, but when I put the pieces together to the best of my abilities, time and again, with hundreds of houses, that one common theme is threaded through the overall story: Life is precious.

Fowler Family Farmhouse

Fowler Family Farmhouse

Eat your dinner

A woman's work is never done

A.D injectable


You can dish it out but you can't take it

Fowler family photos

Donnie as a baby

Lick her

Family values

Off the hook




Tomorrow may never come

Tea time

Paper beats rock

Double televisions - jerm style

Who's The Boss?

A towel is folded on the toilet as if someone is about to hop out of the shower at any moment.






























This was a special moment along my journey in life, and in recovery, corny as it may sound. Through this glimpse into the Fowler family's lives, I learned something new about myself that had never been true before I got sober: I want to live. I do not want to squander away another day in addiction and misery and self hatred and anger and resentment. I don't want to ever take another breath for granted. I was awakened in this moment to the fact that life is precious, and that I have a newfound desire to live it to the fullest, instead of numb out and kill it off.


A work in progress,

Jeremiah, aka jerm IX

click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES


Anonymous said...

Love your work, and always check back for your latest updates. This one is very interesting, especially the comment about the house not being abandoned and regularly checked by family. Really? Why? To see how much more of it can rot away and not clean up your mess? Keep up the good work jerm IX!

Paul said...

Would be nice to see if permission to explore could be granted, maybe even in the presence of family that could expand on the house's story.

chasing lightning bugs said...

your breakthrough here is fabulous. enjoy loving your life. it's good!
and i really love and admire your work.

Anonymous said...

I love your insights. Have a good 24.