NOTE: This was written for broadcast and reflects the thoughts of James Parker.
MINEOLA (KETK) – The Mineola Country Club clubhouse was burned to ashes this week. The pictures and video show a total loss, where most of the structure collapsed into a big smoldering pile. Just looking at the destruction is terrible no matter who you are, but for some people, this is absolutely heartbreaking.
This hits home for a lot of you, as it does for me. Three years ago, my parent’s house in Chapel Hill was burned to the ground. It had been my childhood home, and had four decades of memories inside. Everything from my childhood trophies, to photo albums, to an original copy of Mike Tyson’s Punchout in my original Nintendo from the 80s. It’s all gone.
People of the Mineola Country Club, I feel your pain. The pictures and video don’t do the scene justice. It doesn’t just look dismal, it’s a smell that stabs your memory banks with a level of disgust that’s just not understood unless you’ve been there. It used to be a place of activity, and the lack of noise hurts your soul. Standing on a concrete slab where you made so many memories… birthday parties, 4th of Julys, Christmas parties… it was also a place you met with dear friends and loved ones even if there wasn’t an occasion.
Well-meaning people will tell you things of comfort that are not very helpful: “At least no one was hurt.” “It’s just stuff.” “It can all be replaced.” “You’ll rebuild even better.” “Heck, this old building was falling apart anyway.”
I hated when people told me that. So I’m going to tell you some things that may seem abrasive to those well-meaning people, but you will probably appreciate. Number one: it wasn’t just a building. It was a piece of your life that’s never coming back. You will not get to take your kids or grandkids to the place where important life landmarks happened. You can rebuild, but it’s not a continuation… it’s starting over. Not the same.
Here’s the other tough truth: a lot of that stuff that was lost in the fire is junk to the outside world, but irreplaceable to you. No one in the outside world cares about the photos, golf trophies and keepsakes… except you. I’m sorry you lost those.
So here’s what helped me when I lost my childhood home to fire. Remember, 100 years from now, no one is going to know that any of us were even here. Those photos and trophies and souvenirs were always a temporary part of your temporary lives. Your trophies and photos and putters were always destined for the trash, this just sped up the process by a few years, which in the grand scheme of things is a trifling amount of time.
It hurts, because you have lived a great life so far, and that building housed some of your greatest memories. These memories aren’t gone. They aren’t going to be gone until you’re gone. Now go out there and make some more memories in a different building while you still have time. We were always just a temporary visitor to this world anyway.