I knew I was going to do it.
The home I grew up in – 1203 as we call it.
Renters had gone and someone was looking more seriously at buying it. I wanted one more look.
My parents died in 2007. They moved into 1203 when my brother Adam was born. 58 years. Same house.
That’s lots of memories.
I drove over by myself. The huge oaks that used to encircle the house are mostly gone. The yard looks empty as I still expect their draping branches. Memories come flooding back. Watching my brothers play football (they would only let me be “cheerleader”). Furiously riding my tricycle away from a mean neighborhood dog, screaming at the top of my lungs. Clearing a huge pile of branches after an ice storm with my then 3 year old son.
I set off the alarm as I went in. It blared for a while until I got my brother Adam on the phone and figured out the right code.
That ruined the mood a bit.
Of course I cried. I have always loved this house. The big kitchen where the first thing I learned to make were bunny salads (canned pears with marshmallows , cherries and raisins stuck in them for body parts). Hopefully I have moved on in my culinary efforts. The pantry door was open. My hand automatically knew the “trick” to get it to stay shut. Turn the knob to the left as you close it. Jiggle it a little.
The breakfast room. Gosh. We actually sat down and ate together. Every night. In a separate room designated for just that.
What a novel idea.
Maybe in some ways that room has more memories than all. Except for Mom and Dad’s bedroom in the back.
My mother’s dressing room. So many talks in the mirror. You know, when you are in the room with someone but you are both looking in the mirror. Sort of weird really.
I took pictures as I moved from room to room. It was dark and quiet, light filtering in through shuttered windows. The drapes that Mother had chosen, still at the windows. My bedroom, seeming a little smaller than I remembered it. The long center hall. Just how many times had I yelled out, “Mom I’m home!” and expected to see her sitting in her chair in her bedroom at the end of that hall. You could tell that Dad was home if you could hear music coming from the stereo.
Elegant dinner parties where I would put my ear to the bare floor upstairs to try to hear the adults talk. Sitting in the den with a boyfriend, listening for Mother’s step coming down the hall. Christmas presents from Santa in the living room, the tree twinkling away. Dad marching in his boxers to John Philip Sousa, me giggling hysterically. Arguments. Serious talks. The night Dad had a heart attack. Walked down that hall, by himself thank you, to go to the hospital.
Watching both parents grow more frail as they aged. Fight their separate battles with their own brands of courage.
Those memories don’t belong to the house. Those are mine.
So I said my good-bye. But just to 1203.
I will hope other good memories are built there.
Another family. Another time.
Read more from Margaret Rutherford on her blog, Nestache