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Saturday, September 17


Mom's house is for sale. There is, of all things, a big sign in her lawn announcing it, inviting strangers to poke around the rooms, peer into the closets, test the water pressure.

Absent of furniture and window treatments, it is just rooms, really. A living/dining room, galley kitchen, 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, a screened porch in the back, a backyard big enough for one of those round swimming pools and a huge willow that I loved but that she had removed when the shedding annoyed her. It seems impossibly tiny. It is a house I would never buy. There are no winding hallways or 2nd and 3rd floors to get lost in. Everything is square and even and exact, unlike our very old house with its odd shaped rooms and oversized windows and doors. My parents built that house themselves, with a kit they ordered from a department store. Imagine.

The house did not seem tiny when I lived there. My brother and I had our little worlds within our little rooms. Mom and Dad made amazing Italian food in that tiny kitchen. We skated round and round on circles in that basement, practicing for Friday nights at the roller rink. The porch was the gathering place for our parents' friends. Coffee and donuts from Freddies and everyone smoking cigarettes and telling jokes with the bad words in Italian so the kids wouldn't hear. Life happened there.

I thought that when I wandered through the empty rooms I would hear echoes of memories, but I don't. Oh, I do have flashes. Lots of Christmas trees, searching for hidden presents with my brother. How we used to practice sneaking to the tree after everyone was asleep on Christmas Eve.

But I realize that most of the life there belonged to Mom. She loved that little house. It was her haven, the neighborhood her world. She often complained about her boring life even though we could seldom get her to go anywhere with us the last few years. Truth be told, she was pretty content to watch TV, smoke menthol cigarettes and watch the world pass by the living room picture window. When we tried to encourage her to sell and move to a condo or something she would insist the house was perfect for her. And it was.

My brother and I have talked about how nice it would be if a young couple bought the house as a starter. If they updated the kitchen and had children there. But, who knows. I guess we have to let it go, drop our attachment to it. It is an investment now. No more no less.

Except that lately when I have medical stuff done that requires me to be still and wait for the time to pass so I can get the hell out of there, I imagine peaceful places. And lately that place is under the low hanging branches of that willow in the corner of the yard. It is Summer and it is cool under there. I have a book to read and cookies in my pocket. There is a breeze that moves my hair and cools my neck. The grass is soft beneath me and I can rest my head against the trunk, prop the book on my knees and get lost. It is quiet, safe, a place of contentment. It is my private room.

The house will be sold, other lives will happen there. Years will go by without turning onto that street. But a corner of the yard lives in my heart, giving me a sweet memory and a place to go when I need a few moments of comfort. The smell of grass, the play of shadows, sweet crumbs on my fingertips, safe, warm. Home.


Louise's Son-in-law said...

Thanks! You write so well!

Joanne said...

Big memories from small spaces--may it happen over again.

Anonymous said...

brinkka2011 says: I think you should use more images on your blog, but besides that, it is really great. Cheers.

Pamela Mason said...

Loved this.
I wrote about my house in NOLA, from screen doors to chandeliers.
Isn't it funny the memories we tuck away in our own walls?